The nine-man Lagos State Judiciary Panel on Saturday authorised the reopening of the Lekki Toll Plaza days after the Nigerian Army pulled out of the panel of inquiry and after President Muhammadu Buhari nominated former service chiefs to ambassadorial positions. However, the youth representatives in the panel have protested, insisting the toll gate “remains shut”.
The Lekki Concession Company (LCC) had earlier asked the panel to take control of the plaza for repair and insurance claims, in December 2020. The Lekki Toll Gate was the site of the massacre of #EndSARS protesters who were speaking out against police brutality in Nigeria.
The judicial panels, which were created in many states, were initially viewed with suspicion and the reopening of the toll gate will not help public perception of the panel, its course, especially as Rinu Oduala and Temitope Majekodunmi, the two youth representatives on the nine-man panel, have protested, saying their views were not reflected in the panel ruling.
They disagreed with the approval, insisting that such move would hinder ongoing investigations.
“The Youth Reps at the Lagos judicial panel of inquiry and restitution for victims of SARS related abuses & Lekki Toll Gate Incident will like to formally express our dissent to the Order allowing for the repossession of Lekki Toll Gate,” they said in a statement.
“We’d like to remind the public this panel was set up on our 5 For 5 demands during the nationwide protests against police brutality. So any decision without considering the opinions of the Youth Reps reflected in the rulings will be in violation of Rules setting up this Panel.
“We have made efforts to communicate our position on the application by LCC to take repossession of the Lekki Toll Gate to the Chairlady as required by the Rules of the Panel but our dissent wasn’t reflected in the ruling.”
They also said that “from the Forensic Report submitted by the expert employed by the panel, LCC management has, despite requests, failed to provide information which include access to servers; who ordered the extraction of CCTV footage; date and time of extraction of the footage from the CCTV; method used for the extraction as well as such other information which may be useful for purposes of the forensic examination and report”.
“None of these has been provided by LCC and so it is impossible to conclude that investigations are over. It is therefore imperative that the Lekki Toll Gate management should not be allowed to repossess the toll gate until full investigations are concluded,” they said.
“This is especially important as victims of the Lekki Toll Incident are yet to be heard and the public is still in the dark on the full details of the incident. Based on these facts, we are of the considered view that the Lekki Toll Gate remains shut and under the purview of the panel until full investigations and hearings are concluded by this panel.
“We do not have any intention to obstruct the rulings of the panel. We only want our dissent to be on record. We are committed to ensuring justice for victims.”
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