Governors from the South-west, on Sunday, condemned the shooting of peaceful protesters by soldiers at the Lekki toll gate on Tuesday.
The attack left at least two people dead, with witnesses saying the casualty is much higher than stated by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos who has ordered an investigation.
Apart from labelling the news of the shooting as fake news, the army has not explained its role in the shooting and has not spoken on who authorised the deployment of soldiers there.
The silence of the army was also criticised by the South-west governors through their chairperson, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo.
“We are particularly worried that 48 hours after the unfortunate incident at the Lekki Toll Gate by persons adorning military outfit, there has been no definitive statement from the military authorities on the incident. Our anxiety becomes heightened by the categorical denial of the Governor of Lagos State concerning the military deployment. No Governor has powers to authorise deployment of military personnel in Nigeria,” Mr Akeredolu was quoted as saying by Mr Sanwo-Olu’s spokesperson, Gboyega Akosile, in a statement on Sunday.
The panel set up by the governor to investigate the shooting is expected to commence its work on Monday.
The South-west governors and ministers from the region visited Mr Sanwo-Olu to review the destruction of properties in the state in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how several private and public properties were destroyed by hoodlums in Lagos, mainly between Wednesday and Thursday.
The governors condemned the destruction of properties suggesting an ulterior motive by unnamed persons.
Read Mr Akosile’s full statement below.
•Ministers, Southwest Governors: We Stand With Sanwo-Olu
•Akeredolu To Igbo: Disregard Threat Of Violence By Adeyinka Grandson
Shock! This was the expression on the faces of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) members from Southwest and Governors as they toured the public assets and private properties destroyed in Wednesday’s coordinated arson in Lagos State.
The governors and the ministers were in Lagos on Sunday to commiserate with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu over the large-scale destruction of public and private facilities by hoodlums who had hijacked the #EndSARS protests by youths.
The delegation of governors and ministers was personally received by Mr Sanwo-Olu at the State House in Marina, where the Lagos helmsman showed them the pictorial evidence of the violence before visiting some the torched assets – the Lagos High Court, the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) building and the Forensic Lab.
Many sighed endlessly; others were simply shaking their heads. Some brought their phones and took photographs of the “scene of war”.
At a joint press conference held after the tour, chairman of Southwest Governors’ Forum and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, likened Lagos to a war zone, given the extent of the destruction.
He said the violence that resulted from the EndSARS protest left much to be desired, stressing that there was an agenda beyond the youth demonstration against police brutality.
He said: “We are deeply concerned with the ease with which public buildings, utilities, police stations and investment of our people have been burnt despite the proximity of security agencies in those areas. The development leaves us with no other option than to believe that there may be other reasons for continued protests, well coordinated and funded.
“We are particularly worried that 48 hours after the unfortunate incident at the Lekki Toll Gate by persons adorning military outfit, there has been no definitive statement from the military authorities on the incident. Our anxiety becomes heightened by the categorical denial of the Governor of Lagos State concerning the military deployment. No Governor has powers to authorise deployment of military personnel in Nigeria.”
The governors also condemned “sacrilegious” attack on the palace of the Oba of Lagos and decried what they called “vile attack” on All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, Bola Tinubu, and businesses in which he has interest.
Mr Akeredolu said the regression into savagery exposed Southwest’s vulnerability to manipulation by divisive elements bent on annihilating the region’s economic prosperity and destroying its common heritage.
The governors applauded Mr Sanwo-Olu for his patience and the manner with which he handled the situation.
The Forum demanded an investigation into the circumstances that led to the destruction of public assets and private businesses in Lagos.
“We commend Gov. Sanwo-Olu for his administrative acumen. We note his patience and understanding in the face of unwarranted provocation by agents of darkness. We stand resolutely with him at this trying period. We urged our youths to rise up and defend our land against diabolical incursion ravaging our space. We cannot continue to fold our hands and watch our heritage destroyed,” Mr Akeredolu said.
The Southwest Governors unanimously disowned the war-mongering rhetoric of a man, Adeyinka Grandson, in a video circulating on social media. They urged the Yoruba and non-Yoruba residents in the Southwest to disregard the threat of violence issued in the video, saying the “secessionist” had no authority to speak for the Yoruba.
Mr Akeredolu said: “The element (Adeyinka Grandson) has no authority to speak on our behalf. We call on our brothers who are non-Yoruba natives to go about their normal businesses with out fear. Southwest region will continue to be made habitable for all.”
Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said the visit was at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari, noting that words were not enough to describe the extent of the destruction wreaked by the arsonists.
Mr Fashola hailed Mr Sanwo-Olu for his “untiring effort” to restore peace in the state, cautioning those posting inflammatory comments on social media to desist from the act. He urged all Lagos residents to unite and collectively address the cause of the violence, stressing that the State Government needed the support of all in unraveling the truth.
Other governors in the delegation included those of Oyo and Ekiti states, Seyi Makinde, and Kayode Fayemi.
Other FEC members, who visited Mr Sanwo-Olu, include Minister for Sport and Youth Development, Sunday Dare, Minister for Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Industry, Trade and Development, Niyi Adebayo, Minister of State for Health, Olorunimbe Mamora, Minister of State for Niger Delta, Omotayo Alasoadura, and Minister for Mines and Steel Development,
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who also visited Mr Sanwo-Olu, condemned the violence and destruction of properties in Lagos.
Mr Gbajabiamila, who was accompanied by members of the House of Representatives from Lagos State, urged people not to read ethnic dimension to the issue, promising that the lower chamber of the National Assembly would do all within its power in rebuilding Lagos and other states affected by the violence.
He said: “This certainly is not Lagos State of our dream that we all talk about. I believe that no matter brave or face anyone put into it, even the protesters have their regrets that things went this far. From my understanding and from what I have seen, those who were for the protests and those who did not join were all affected. It is very unfortunate to see the level of destruction.”
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...