The massive armed police officers deployed to man the Lekki Tollgate Plaza has elicited flurry of reactions.
The Nation had earlier reported that on Friday night, armed police officers embarked on a show of force across the city, reiterating its call for protesters to stay away from the tollgate.
At the early hours of Saturday, some protesters who arrived at the toll gate were arrested, while some other passersby without proper identification were allegedly arrested including Popular Instagram comedian, Mr. Macaroni.
The protest, tagged #OccupyLekkiTollgate was against the reopening of the tollgate.
Amidst the threat of violence, the police, federal and state governments had earlier warned both groups to shelve the protests.
The Nation reports that the Lekki tollgate has not been operational since October 2020.
The Lagos State Judicial Panel’s decision permitting the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) to repossess the Lekki Toll Gate caused a social media storm earlier this week with two groups threatening counter-protests at the plaza.
Opponents of the panel’s decision, mainly youths, have continued to express their outrage on Twitter with the hashtag #OccupyLekkiTollGate, #EndSARS, #EndBadGovernanceInNigeria.
Many Nigerians, including celebrities, social media influencers, took to social media to berate the Lagos state government over the deployment of operatives against unarmed protesters exercising their constitutional rights.
Toke Makinwa said, “Nigeria can really really really test you, Lagos state government you need the youth, @jidesanwoolu, police arresting peaceful protesters that voted you in to office is a low blow, it is an abuse of our fundamental right to peacefully protest #EndSARS #Lekkitollgate”
Popular Activist, Aisha Yesufu “That we decide to be law abiding is not a reason for government to take us for granted. We have seen the Nigerian govt turn to left over spaghetti in the presence of killer herdsmen, kidnappers, bandits, Boko Haram etc who decided not to be law abiding #LekkiTollGate #EndSars
@Adetolaov said, “What is the use of having laws if the Police can simply choose to ignore that “peaceful protests are a constitutional right”, and instead beat up protesters, respond with force and even take protesters away in a Black Maria. Disgraceful and illegal acts #Lekkitollgate #EndSARS”
Charley Boy said, “I know they have turned Nigeria into a Jungle. But peaceful protest is still our human right. Animals can’t dash us human right. Say no to #lekkitollgate reopening.
Popular CNN Journalist Stephanie Busari said, “Police are clamping down heavily on the few protesters that turned up. We saw some beaten with sticks and their posters confiscated. One young man who said he was an observer was taken away in a Black Maria. #Lekkitollgate”
Wale Adetona said “So the armed police and LCC staff at #LekkiTollGate are arresting anyone on sight whether you are a protester or not, straight into a Black Maria and moved to an unknown location. Whatever happened to the fundamental right of peaceful gathering?”
Ayo Sogunro said, “Sanwoolu will show up soon and claim to know nothing about the deployment of armed personnel to #Lekkitollgate and the unprovoked arrest of protesters for simply being in the area. #EndSARS #OccupyLekkiTollGate”
Nancy Isime said, “All we seek is Justice for the #LekkiMassacre.. As we march at #Lekkitollgate today, justice will prevail and Christ Jesus will go with us. We’re not stopping until we #EndSARS and bad governance in NigeriaRaised fist”
DJ Switch said, “I am so angry at all I see, I want us all… Where ever we are, to speak up! In whatever way you can!!! Will update you all on what is happening on the 17th if all goes well. Like I said… I have chosen to fight, what do you want to do? #EndSARS #EndPoliceBrutalityinNigeria”
Kate Henshaw said, “All I really want to say is that they don’t really care about us…… #EndSARS #EndBadGovernanceInNigeria #EndPoliceBrutality”
“People have a right to protest peacefully in Nigeria. It is a right guaranteed by the constitution. Any government that arrests people for simply protesting peacefully is an oppressive government. This is oppression #EndSARS #Lekkitollgate” @moechevious tweeted.
Lawyer Tope Akinyode said, “Full-blown dictatorship is upon us, Nigerians must resist this #EndSARS”