The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, has ordered men of the Nigeria Police force to protect protesters in the state, while also suing for peaceful demonstration.
He gave this order on Saturday while addressing the protesters who are demanding for a better Nigeria in commemoration of this year’s Democracy Day at the Freedom Park axis of Ojota, Lagos.
Assessing protesters, CP Odumosu affirmed that, protest was a fundamental human right, thus the protesters had reason to seek permission for organising a protest but should inform police for a peaceful and safe protest.
He added that there was no curfew in Lagos State except the Covid-19 curfew enforcement from12 midnight to 4am.
He said: “When I heard about the ongoing protest, I had to come to the ground myself and talk to the officers around and assure protesters of safety. I have instructed the policemen not to go close to the protesters and ensure they are protecting them.
“There is no announcement of lockdown across Lagos state. We heard such on social media yesterday and we issued a press release assuring Lagos residents to go about their usual business activities without any form of interruption. Those who created that law for themselves did that to create fears in the mind of people. Today, I have gone round Lagos and I saw business activities ongoing and peacefully. There is no curfew. The only curfew we are enforcing is from 12 midnight to 4:00am which is for Covid-19.
“I am the happiest person because there is a peaceful protest. Once there is any problem, my mind will no longer be at rest. The protest is ongoing peacefully and people are exercising their rights which was why I instructed the policemen to ensure maximum security.
“While the protest was ongoing, I was told some people came here to disrupt the protest claiming Ojota is their land, we as policemen need to be proactive. Nobody was arrested and those that were arrested have been released. Nobody is in the police custody as far as this protest is concerned. As peaceful as the people want the protest to be, the police will remain with them”.
The commissioner expressed displeasure narrating how some protesters blocked the roads with woods and tyres causing traffic.
“It is our duty to ensure that the protesters are protected. Few hours ago, the roads were blocked and those coming to Lagos couldn’t come in. The protesters blocked the roads with woods and tyres and we have realised that anything that happens in Lagos goes a long way to the whole country.
“Petrol tankers were stuck in traffic. Petroleum is inflammable and anything could happen. That was why we liberated the routes for easy flow of movement. Everyone has the right to protest because it’s their fundamental human right. No one needs the permission of the police to protest but the police needs to be informed so that adequate security and protection can be assured.
“My appeal is, whenever any rally or protest is scheduled, the state government should be informed so that safe places like the Freedom Park will be opened for peaceful protest. It is also very important that the Commissioner of Police is informed for maximum security,” he said.
Videos however showed that there were attempts by the police to disperse peaceful protesters around Ojota and in some other areas in Lagos.