A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, has called for the immediate release of protesters arrested at the Lekki Toll Gate on Saturday.
The protesters were railing against the decision of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry to reopen the toll gate.
The toll gate was symbolic of last October’s #EndSARS protests.
On October 20, military officials opened fire at peaceful protesters gathered at the toll.
Although the Nigerian government and military have denied any wrongdoing, critics say it is premature to reopen the toll gate until all investigations are concluded.
In a statement titled ‘The Arrest, Detention and Dehumanization of Protesters at Lekki Toll Gate Are Unacceptable’, Adegboruwa, one of the members of the Lagos Judicial Panel who disagreed with the decision to reopen the toll, condemned the arrest of the protesters.
“My heart is very heavy,” he said. “I’m saddened and devastated. My soul is sorely troubled at this time.
“For decades before the advent of this administration, Nigerians have risked their lives, liberties, their times and their energies, their resources, to win back this country on the side of democracy and good government, from military dictatorship. Some have paid the supreme price with their lives.
“I have been monitoring events at the Lekki Toll Gate since morning, and I am totally overwhelmed with the images, videos and sundry evidence of police brutality of armless civilians, who ventured to protest at the Toll Gate. In one particular video, I saw citizens of Nigeria being dehumanized, striped half naked and cramped together in a rickety bus. This is totally unacceptable.
“While we are yet to come to terms with the events of October 20, 2020, it becomes worrisome that the security agencies have not learnt any positive lesson from those occurrences. I commend the protesters for their peaceful conduct.”
Adegboruwa also said he was considering exiting the panel.
“I cannot in good conscience continue to sit at any Panel of Inquiry to heal wounds and end police brutality, when fresh assaults are being perpetrated with impunity,” he said. “Consequently, I am presently consulting with my constituency within the civil society, as to my continued participation in the EndSARS Judicial Panel.
“I hereby demand the immediate release of all those arrested in connection with the peaceful protest at the Lekki Toll Gate today. On no account should anything happen to any of them while in the custody of the police.
“I appeal for calm on all sides, in order not to escalate the worsening security situation across the land. I cannot fail to point out the fact that the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is a product of protest and civil disobedience. Let history vindicate the just.”