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No deaths at Lekki Toll Gate, says Lagos government in #EndSARS White Paper

By Gbenga Salau and Waliat Musa
01 December 2021   |   3:36 am
Lagos State Government, yesterday, rejected some of the conclusions reached by the Judicial Panel of Inquiry into last year’s #EndSARS protest...

Lagos Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat (left); Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso during a media briefing on the State Government’s position on the recommendations of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on #EndSARS in Lagos House, Ikeja…yesterday.

Sanwo-Olu calls for healing, plans a peace walk
• Falz, Mr. Marcaroni reject gov’s invitation
• State judicial panels can indict military, police officers, Falana insists

Lagos State Government, yesterday, rejected some of the conclusions reached by the Judicial Panel of Inquiry into last year’s #EndSARS protest.

Some of the rejections included those that had to do with deaths or massacres from military gunshots at Lekki Toll Gate.

Of the 32 recommendations made by the Judicial Panel of Inquiry, the state government accepted 11; rejected one; and accepted six with modifications.

Also, 14 recommendations fell outside the powers of the state government and would be forwarded to the Federal Government for consideration.

Earlier, while briefing on his government’s position on recommendations of the Panel, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had said Lagos State deserves true healing after the protests.

Speaking at State House, Alausa, Sanwo-Olu disclosed that his government was committed to bringing closure to the “painful episode”. He said the state faces the hard choice of restoring harmony or doing itself great harm, urging residents to join his administration in strengthening harmony and putting Lagos on the path of peace.

He urged the rejection of persons fueling anarchy and suspicion; those who cling to the unsubstantiated belief that carries no weight of verifiable evidence while choosing emotion over facts.

He noted that his administration is ready to facilitate better communication between youths and the security machinery to resolve issues before they become intractable.

The governor also disclosed he would be leading ‘A Walk for Peace’ in December to herald healing of the land, and extended an open invitation to youths, members of the diplomatic corps, civil society groups, students and the media, as well as other stakeholders.

He specifically invited Folarin Falana (Falz), Debo Adebayo (Mr. Marcaroni), Dele Farotimi, Temitope Majekodunmi, Segun Awosanya (Segalinks), Adedotun (Just Detoun), Seun Kuti, Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu and Commander of Rapid Response Squad (RRS), CSP Yinka Egbeyemi, and others to join him in the “historic march for our dear Lagos”.

He said: “Nobody will build this city for us. Let us show the world who we are. We are Lagosians, a people of great renown, driven by the irrepressible spirit of Lagos. It is a testimony to our strength and resilience as a people that, despite the huge losses incurred because of these terrible incidents, we have bounced back, with our economy as vibrant and virile as ever. I have no doubt whatsoever that our prospects are as bright as ever and the best lies ahead of Lagos State and Nigeria.

BUT in separate reactions, Falz and Mr. Marcaroni rejected Sanwo-Olu’s invitation to the peace walk.

Mr. Marcaroni said genuine peacemaking should begin by first implementing the recommendations of the panel.

Falz described the walk as a very disrespectful joke.

Segalink, however, said the governor has shown leadership with his mature response.

Mr. Marcaroni said: “I humbly decline the invitation of Mr. Governor…Before there can be healing, the government has to be sincere. There must be acceptance of wrongdoings and willingness to correct them.

“The last walk wey I do, na so dem bundle me, strip me naked, brutalise and dehumanise me. I no carry gun, I no carry weapon. As dem dey beat me, dem dey ask why I dey disturb Mr. Governor. Now dem say make I come do walk. For another round of beating?”

Falz said: “This suggestion of a ‘walk of peace’ sounds like a joke and a very disrespectful one at that. People were murdered in cold blood and absolutely no iota of justice has been served, more than a year after. How can there be peace without justice?”

MEANWHILE, reacting to challenges from some quarters on the legality of state judicial panels to indict military and police officers, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, issued a statement yesterday, arguing: “Since the Tribunal of Enquiry Act is not a law of general application in the country, it is a dangerous submission to say that only a commission of inquiry instituted by the President is competent to investigate the violations of human rights or murder committed by Federal officers in any state of the Federation.

“In fact, it is embarrassing that some public officers who had campaigned for the sovereignty of state governments within the federation before 2015 have turned round to question the powers of state governments to legislate on matters in the residual list including the Tribunal of Inquiry Laws.

“It is a matter of common knowledge that before the #EndSARS protests last year, every state government in the country has been setting up administrative and judicial commissions of inquiry.”

According to him, “the controversy surrounding the legality of any panel set up under the Tribunal of Enquiry Law of Lagos State was laid to rest as far back as 1987.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the validity of the law was upheld by the Court of Appeal in the case of Williams v Dawodu (1998) 4 NWLR (PT 87) 189 at 212- 213 where Akpata JCA (as he then was) held inter alia: “In any event, the Learned Trial Judge was not entitled to enquire into the constitutionality of the Tribunal of Inquiry Law (CAP 135) Lagos State, even if Section 5(e) and 14(2) thereof appeared to be unconstitutional. The Tribunals of Inquiry Law was promulgated on December 4, 1968. Thus, when the 1979 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was promulgated as of the 1st October 1979 the Tribunal of Inquiry Law qualified as an ‘Existing Law’ under Section 274 of the same Constitution.”

He submitted: “Military and police personnel indicted for murder and allied offences are liable to be prosecuted by the Attorney-General of Lagos State as the Attorney-General of the Federation lacks the power to prosecute any person accused of committing state offences.”