Two lawyers in Lekki said on Saturday they would quickly move to free protesters who were taken into custody by the police on Saturday morning.
At least 13 protesters were reportedly arrested after showing up early for the protest against reopening of Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos on Saturday. The toll gate was the scene of a deadly shooting by Nigerian soldiers on those campaigning against police brutality on October 20, 2020.
On February 6, a judicial panel hearing cases of police brutality in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests gave its nod for the reopening of the toll facility, in a controversial 5-4 decision that immediately caused fissures amongst members.
Nigerians, however, kicked against the panel’s decision, saying it was insensitive to reopen the toll gate before victims of both the massacre and other unresolved police brutalities achieved justice.
On Saturday, 13 people were arrested when protesters streamed to the toll gate in Lekki, an affluent, water locked neighbourhood south of Lagos.
The arrests by a team of police task force drew immediate criticism from Nigerians following the development via social media.
“We condemn in its entirety the conduct of the Rapid Response Squad and Lagos State Special Taskforce of the Lagos State Command of the Nigerian Police Force,” said lawyers Oladotun Hassan and Ayo Ademiluyi in a statement, accusing the police of “foisting an atmosphere of intimidation on the ordinary citizens of our jurisdiction.”
The lawyers said they had commenced efforts to free the protesters and ensure that their fundamental rights were not violated.
The Buhari administration has warned of severe consequences for anyone who took part in the demonstration after seeing it as an attempt to destabilise public peace.