The Lagos State Police Command has explained why it dispersed youths who stormed the Lekki and Victoria Island areas of Lagos on Thursday, for candlelight procession in honour of the late singer, Ilerioluwa Aloba, known as Mohbad.
The police said Mohbad’s protesters were in the process of breaching the agreement the organisers had with the police that the gathering would not exceed 8:00 pm.
In a statement released by the Command’s Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, on Friday, the police explained that some demonstrators gathered at Lekki Toll Gate and started chanting #JusticeforMohbad.
He said their action made the police to chase away the protesters, who were not satisfied with the agreement that the procession should have ended at the Muri Okunola in VI.
The statement reads, “The Lagos State Police Command is fully aware of false narratives making the rounds in relation to the dispersal of crowds at the Lekki Toll Gate yesterday, September 21, 2023.
“It is instructive to note that the Lagos State Police Command had an agreement with the organizers of the candle light procession that the procession was to end at 8pm latest and should terminate at Muri Okunola, Victoria Island.
“It was clearly stated for avoidance of doubt that in the interest of all Lagosians and considering the heavy use of the Lekki-Epe Expressway, the Lekki Toll Gate would be a no-go area.
“It, however, became disconcerting that after the procession duly ended at Muri Okunola park as agreed, with the police providing optimal security all through, some persons started gathering at the Lekki Toll Gate with intent to manifest objectives extraneous to the #justiceforMohbad initiative.
“Being a clear violation of the laid down agreement, the Lagos State Police Command invited the procession organizers who came back and joined the officers on ground in persuading the people at the toll gate to disperse peacefully.
“The organizers equally sent out messages on social media asking everyone to go home, clarifying in clear terms that it was not a protest but a procession which had been successfully concluded.
“This persuasion and appeal went on for hours, to which the police and organizers met defiance, both in words and action. At this point, all lanes in and out of Lekki had been totally blocked. Vehicular movement on the ever-busy expressway had been brought to a total standstill, leading to traffic build up.”
The police noted that the proactive idea to disperse them was borne out of past experiences whereby miscreants hijacked peaceful protests.
Recall that Lagos witnessed destruction of public and private property worth billions of naira when #EndSARS protest was hijacked by hoodlums in 2020, a brutal experience that also claimed many lives.
Speaking further, the police said, “Having gone down this road before, having learnt from previous similar encounters, and having studied the pattern in the crowd, the red flags and early warning signs of total chaos and anarchy were discernible.
“Therefore, in fulfillment of our mandate to protect life and property, maintain law and order and prevent crimes, we adopted the least harmful method of crowd dispersal, following the failure of verbal persuasion – the use of teargas. Not a single live ammunition was fired! The police adopted crowd management best practices in engaging the unruly crowd. No life was lost neither was there any injury.
“The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command, hereby warns mischief makers that any person or group of persons found disturbing the peace of the state, under whatever guise, would be promptly arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
“The Lagos State Police Command also appreciates the procession organizers for keeping faith with the Command and assures all supporters of #justiceforMohbad and Lagosians at large that it would continue to prioritize their safety and security at all times.
“Meanwhile, the ongoing investigation into the circumstances leading to the death of Mr Ilerioluwa Aloba is progressing well. The general public are, therefore, requested to avoid creating unnecessary distractions and give the Command the stable internal security space to undertake a conclusive and timeous investigation.
“In this process, it should be noted that the Lagos State Police Command has, as promised, been interfacing closely and regularly with all meaningful support groups of #justiceforMohbad. This synergy shall be sustained while the general public are assured that they would be continually updated on the progress of the investigation.”