Police charge Lekki tollgate protesters with ‘breaching public peace, coronavirus protocol’

The police in Lagos have charged 40 protesters arrested at the Lekki tollgate on Saturday to court, for breaching public peace.

The police in Lagos have charged 40 protesters arrested at the Lekki tollgate on Saturday to court, for breaching public peace.

The arrested protesters include, Debo Adebayo, popularly known as Mr Macaroni, Dabiraoluwa Adeyinka, Damilare Adenola, Anjorin Joseph, Paul Terkuma and Anisere Sodiq.

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The protesters were charged at the Magistrate Court of Lagos State, Yaba.

In the charge sheet obtained by newsmen, they were charged on three counts including failing to comply with the “Quarantine Law which prohibit any social gathering to avoid spreading and contacting of Coronavirus Disease”.

The other charges are “breach of public peace, harassment, and causing unnecessary alarm to the public”.

Newsmen earlier reported the arrest of the protesters and how they were manhandled by police officers. They were also reportedly denied access to their lawyers, some activists claim.

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charge sheet

According to the charge sheet, the police said the protesters “did conspire among yourselves (themselves) to commit a misdemeanour to wit conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 412 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015″.

The second count on which they were charged also states that the protesters gathered themselves, “to harass and cause unnecessary alarm and panic in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 168 (1) (e) and punishable under Section 168 (2) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.”

The protesters were also charged with failure to comply with COVID-19 law recently passed by the federal government.

“That you the above named Defendants on the 13th of February, 2021 at Lekki Toll Plaza in the Yaba Magisterial District did fail to comply with the Restriction/Prohibition Quarantine Law which prohibit any social gathering to avoid spreading and contacting of Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 5 of the Quarantine Act Q2 Law of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004 as domesticated under Public Health Law CH: P: Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria, 2015,” the court document reads.

The right to protest is a fundamental human right in Nigeria but the police on Saturday clamped down on several protesters who were unarmed.

The arrest of the peaceful protesters has been condemned by different groups and individuals, with many calling for their unconditional release.

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The Commander, U.S. Africa Command, U General Stephen Townsend, wrapped up a three-day West African visit February 22-25, 2021, with a stopover in Nigeria to meet with the nation’s leaders and further the long-standing partnership and security cooperation between the two countries.

A press statement by the Embassy on Friday, said: “During the visit, Townsend met with the Nigerian President’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and National Security Adviser, Babagan Monguno, to discuss regional security issues and to express the command’s gratitude for the assistance provided during a hostage rescue operation last year.

“When we asked for their help, the Nigerian government answered the call. Our hostage recovery mission in October would have been impossible without their support.

“They quickly provided assistance that helped the U.S. military to save an American life. That is a strong example of our partnership with Nigeria.”

Townsend also met with senior military officials, including the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magash, and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor, to talk about on-going cooperation in the region and greater maritime security and threat mitigation.

Nigeria is a key partner in countering violent extremist organizations throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

Townsend said furthermore: “The bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the U.S. is built on several pillars including security cooperation.

“U.S. Africa Command will do our part to advance the security cooperation pillar, so that Nigerians can enjoy the more secure future they all deserve.”

As close partners, the U.S. and Nigeria have worked at ensuring the collaborative relationship continues to grow to include a commitment to interoperability. Nigeria purchased 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, which will be delivered later this year.

“Nigeria’s purchase of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is another example of their commitment to interoperability and security in the region,” he added. “Our economic relationship with Nigeria is already strong, and we look forward to the continued strengthening of security relationships. Nigeria’s leaders understand the importance of a collaborative approach to ensuring stability in West Africa and partnering on areas of mutual interest.”

The Commander also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.

Leonard said: “General Townsend’s visit to Nigeria demonstrates the strategic importance the United States places on our bilateral relationship with Nigeria.

“Our security cooperation partnership with Nigeria’s military will strengthen the country’s capabilities to secure land and sea borders, enhance overall security, and combat terrorism in the North East.”

As part of the visit, Townsend participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Nigeria Military National Cemetery to honour those who have given their lives in the service of their nation.

During the visit, the delegation expressed their condolences for the seven service men killed in the crash of a Nigerian Air Force aircraft in Abuja.