Lagos lawyers hold protest despite police warning

Lagos lawyers hold protest despite police warning

Despite a police order to shelve the protest, lawyers of the Ikeja chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association on Thursday marched in Lagos against the new land use charge introduced by the state government.

The protest held less than 24 hours after a police siege at the lawyers’ secretariat in Lagos ostensibly to arrest key officials of the association.

Joining the Ikeja NBA at the march were the Trade Union Congress, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, Joint Action Front, among other civil society groups.

The protest was staged in different parts of Lagos including the Tejuosho market in Yaba; Ojuelegba; Ayilara and Itire road; Agege market; and the Pen Cinema roundabout.

Addressing the crowd, Adeshina Ogunlana, the chairman of the Ikeja NBA, reiterated his earlier position that Lagosians should ignore any land use charge notice served them by the state government.

“Do not pay these taxes. Lagos belongs to the people and not Ambode. He wants to use your head to build a mega city,” Mr. Ogunlana said.

“Our protest is a continuation of the sensitisation of the people not to pay Ambode’s toxic tax. They think they can do anything and get away with it but we are opposing and we call on well-meaning Lagosians to oppose it and we are sure the tax will not hold in Lagos.

Mr. Ogunlana said those in government in Lagos are enemies of the people, noting out that they had forgotten that “the same people they are trying to kill voted them into office.”

“When they were asking for our votes, they promised us change, they promised cheap houses, cheap transportation. But today, they are sucking our blood.

“Lagosians, don’t be deceived, shine your eyes, Land Use Charge would lead to inflation, increase in rent, increase in the cost of transportation, increase in the cost of food.”

Over the past weeks, the lawyers’ body had mobilised civil society organisations to protest against the “obnoxious” taxes by the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode government.

On Wednesday, the lawyers announced they would hold another round of protests against the law on Thursday, a day President Muhammadu Buhari was billed to begin a two-day official visit in the state.

Hours later, dozens of armed police officers stormed the lawyers’ secretariat seeking to stop the protest, with the Lagos State police chief accusing Mr. Ogunlana of planning to instigate chaos during the president’s visit.

At the protest on Thursday, Mr. Ogunlana said, “We have dared the commissioner of police in Lagos, Imohimi Edgar, who said anybody that comes out to exercise their fundamental rights will be dealt with. We have come out and people have accepted us without their police protection. This is a democracy.”

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