Lagos State chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called for immediate discontinuation of their trial of #OccupyLekki protesters, describing the arrest, humiliation and trial of the protesters as a sad reminder of what Nigerians went through in the hands of military dictators.
Chairman of the party, Deji Doherty, made the call, on Sunday, in a statement made available to newsmen, in reaction to the arrest on Saturday and arraignment before a Lagos court of the affected protesters, who were later granted bail.
The PDP chieftain, while lamenting the development, describing it as a show of shame, said Lagosians would never believe that a day would come in the state when citizens’ rights to peaceful protests would be muscled by a supposed democratic government.
“Lagosians will never believe that a time will come in the state when citizens’ rights to peaceful protests will be muscled by a supposed democratic government,” he said.
Doherty, while decrying treatment meted to the #OccupyLekki protesters, said it was an irony that an All Progressives Congress (APC) led government that was pampering terrorists could send policemen armed to the teeth against civilians who only expressed their displeasure over a government decision.
This was just as he wondered why such a situation should even arise when prominent personalities in APC government, especially those in Lagos State were once human rights and pro-democracy activists.
“The National Leader of the APC, Senator Bola Tinubu, should recall that their rights to protest or freely congregate against the Goodluck Jonathan administration was not crushed with the Federal might when the PDP was in power,” he recalled.
“Consequently, the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu/ APC/Sanwo Olu led administration should realize that power is transient,” he warned.
He said it was now clear that all that matters to the APC government in Lagos was the billions of naira being generated at the Lekki Toll Gate and not the welfare of the people.
Doherty expressed worries about why resumption of collection of tolls at the Lekki Toll Gate would be more important to a government than the lives of those allegedly killed by soldiers during the last year #EndSARS protest, even as he demanded explanations as to whether or not it was part of the mandate of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution to investigate cases of police brutality in the State, to order the commencement of operations at the toll plaza.
“When did it become the duty of a judicial panel of inquiry to order the resumption of collection of tolls at a Toll Gate, which was shut down owing to the alleged killing of youths whose only offence is that they demanded that SARS policemen should stop killing them? he queried.
“The Lagos State government and most especially, the members of the House of Assembly from Lagos Island, Eti-Osa, Ibeju-Lekki and Epe LGAs should open up a public hearing or referendum on the reopening of this controversial tollgate to show the world that democracy is really the order of the day in Lagos State, instead of trying to crush a peaceful protest without presenting any kind of alternative medium of diplomacy as it concerns the tollgate issue.
“As for those who were arrested among the protesters, we wish to tell them to remain strong, committed and resolute in their quest for a Nigeria where the government does the right thing and citizens are allowed to ventilate their grievances against government freely,” PDP boss said.