Police in Lagos State declared on Friday that they fired teargas to disperse an unruly crowd at the Lekki Toll gate on Thursday, Sept. 21.
The crowd gathered at the toll gate after a candlelit funeral procession in honour of popular singer, Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Aloba (Mohbad) ended at Muri Okunola Park, Victoria Island, as agreed between the police and the organisers.
“No single live ammunition was fired. The police adopted crowd management’s best practices in engaging the unruly crowd,’’ police spokesman in Lagos State, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, stated at Ikeja.
“No life was lost, neither was there any injury,’’ he added.
Hundeyin stressed that police were fully aware of false narratives making the rounds in relation to the dispersal of crowds at the Lekki Toll Gate on Thursday, Sept. 21.
“It is instructive to note that the police had an agreement with the organisers of the candlelit procession to end it, latest at 8 p.m. and to terminate it at Muri Okunola Park, Victoria Island.
“It was clearly stated for avoidance of doubt that in the interest of all `Lagosians’ and considering the heavy use of the Lekki-Epe Expressway, the Lekki Toll Gate would be a no-go area.
“It became disconcerting that after the procession ended at Muri Okunola Park as agreed, with the police providing optimal security all through, some persons started gathering at the Lekki Toll Gate.
“Their intent was to manifest objectives extraneous to the #justiceforMohbad initiative.
“Being a clear violation of the laid-down agreement, the police invited the procession organisers who joined officers on ground in persuading the people at the toll gate to disperse peacefully,’’ he explained.
Hundeyin stated also that the organisers sent out messages on social media asking everyone to disperse; clarifying in clear terms that it was not a protest but a procession which had been successfully concluded.
“This persuasion and appeal went on for hours, but met with defiance both in words and in action.
“At this point, all lanes in and out of Lekki had been totally blocked. Vehicular movement on the ever-busy expressway had been brought to total standstill, leading to traffic build-up.
“Having gone down this road before; having learnt from previous similar encounters, and having studied the pattern in the crowd, the red flags and early warning signs of total chaos and anarchy were discernible,’’ Hundeyin explained further.
He added that in fulfilment of police’s mandate to protect lives and property, maintain law and order and prevent crimes, they adopted the least harmful method of crowd dispersal – the use of teargas.
This, he stressed, followed the failure of verbal and social media posts persuasion.
Hundeyin stated also that the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Mr Idowu Owohunwa, warned that mischief makers or group of persons found disturbing the peace, under whatever guise, would be arrested.
Such persons or group of persons shall be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, Owohunwa also warned.
Hundeyin stated also that the police appreciated the procession organisers for keeping faith with them and assured supporters of #justiceforMohbad and Lagosians that they would continue to prioritise residents’ safety and security at all times.
According to him, on-going investigation into the circumstances leading to the death of “Mohbad’’ is progressing well.
He urged the public to avoid creating unnecessary distractions and give the police the stable internal security space to undertake a conclusive and timeous investigation.
“It should be noted that the police had been interfacing closely and regularly with all meaningful support groups of #justiceforMohbad, as promised.
“This synergy shall be sustained and the public shall be updated continually on the progress of investigation,’’ Hundeyin assured.