The police in Lagos on Wednesday fired teargas canisters to disperse youth who held a procession in remembrance of the #EndSARS protest of October last year and the shooting of protesters at the Lekki tollgate.
What began as a peaceful car procession to mark the first memorial of the Lekki shooting turned into a rowdy demonstration as the security operatives arrested more than five protesters.
Among those arrested was a man armed with a machete and other harmful objects.
Around 8:40 a.m., the protesters in various vehicles flooded the Lekki tollgate despite the heavy police presence holding on to the Nigerian flag while chanting #EndSARS and honking their horns.
Two of the organisers, the Nigerian rapper, Folarin Falana, known as ‘Falz’, and a comedian, Adebowale Adedayo, popularly called ‘Mr Macaroni’ also lent their voices to the demonstration.
Although the police allowed the demonstrators to have their way for about one hour, they began shooting tear gas at the demonstrators.
Hakeem Odumosu, the police commissioner, who was also at the Lekki toll gate on Wednesday said the activities of the youth were already causing a public discomfort and could not be allowed to linger further.
Mr Odumosu said he ordered the firing of teargas to avoid a breakdown of law and order, because the protesters went against the promise earlier made that the procession will start by 8 a.m. and end by 10 a.m.
“The protest was between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., anything, after 10 am, is a nuisance.
I discussed with them and they said they will end the protest by 10 o’clock. Other people doing it now just causing a nuisance. Some with machete, hammer, are they protesters or miscreants?
“The protesters are free; they have done their thing and left. Any other persons remaining are the miscreants, hoodlums that want to capitalise on that to attack innocent people and start robbing people, we will not allow that,” Mr Odumosu said.
While the arrests of some of the demonstrators was ongoing, journalists were not spared.
A journalist from the P.M news, Taiwo Okanlawon, was harassed despite identifying himself as a member of the press.
The police earlier arrested a journalist with Legit news, saying he had no means of identification on him.
Meanwhile, Adekunle Ajisebutu, the Lagos police spokesperson, said some of the arrested protesters “who had valid means of identification were immediately released by the CP.”
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