Security operatives on Wednesday fired tear gas to disperse youths who were commemorating the first anniversary of the EndSars protest at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos.
The protest, which morphed from social media campaigns into street demonstrations in October 2020, was alleged to have been triggered by the excesses of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a now-disbanded police tactical unit.
A lot of young Nigerians began filling up numerous vehicles and buses as early as 8 a.m., blowing horns as they passed through the toll plaza.
As the rally progressed, more youths including celebrities arrived at the location, while others descended from their automobiles, chanting solidarity songs.
TVC News gathered that over seven persons were arrested by the police for failing to
properly identify themselves while others were arrested for arming themselves with cutlasses and glasses.
The Lagos Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, who was also present at the rally, expressed his disappointment saying that the police did not disperse the youths participating in the procession, but rather, that security personnel used tear gas to disperse what he called miscreants at the venue.
“We did not fire canister to disperse protesters,” he told TVC news at the venue of the parade. “If you have your recording, you will know the type of the canister that we fired and if you go back, you will see the period that they (the organisers) posted – it was between 8am and 10am.
“Secondly, we agreed that they need to move in vehicles, not on foot. They can blare their horns, they can wave their flags, they can display their posters, no problem.
“But they are not to be on foot, and we agreed that they won’t come down from their vehicle to address anybody; that is where people will start coming in and converging.”
The police commissioner claimed that only the bare minimum of force was used to disperse miscreants, not the youths taking part in the memorial procession.
He explained that he had a discussion with the organisers on the venue and time for the parade, saying that became necessary for the police to provide adequate security for them.
Odumosu said after 10am, he called the organisers who he said informed him that the procession had ended, and participants had returned to their various destinations.
He emphasized that those apprehended were miscreants, some of them were loaded with weapons and intended to cause chaos at the venue.
“We arrested someone with a machete, is that a protester? That is evidence to us that miscreants have infiltrated them,” said the police commissioner.
“Those people that gather now are on foot, they are the miscreants that infiltrated them; not those that came with their vehicles. We did not drag anybody out of the car. We did not arrest anybody that is known to be a protester.”