Nigeria’s Minister of Information Lai Mohammed has warned those planning to protest at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos on Saturday to desist.
This follows calls by citizens on social media to stage demonstrate at the tollgate after the Lagos State Judicial Panel established to probe police brutality and human rights abuses handed over the tollgate to its owner, the Lekki Concession Companty for rehabilitation and subsequent reopening.
Operations at the tollgate were suspended after the shooting of #EndSARS protesters on October 20.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, Mohammed said the federal government would not allow the kind of violence that trailed the #EndSARS demonstrations last year.
According to the minister, there is intelligence suggesting that the protest would be hijacked by “subversive elements, with a view to destabilizing the country”.
“Let me be clear. While peaceful protests are the constitutional rights of Nigerians, violent protests are not. At this time, the chances that any peaceful protest will be hijacked are very high.
“Based on the intelligence at the disposal of the Federal Government, some Nigerian activists have linked up with others outside Nigeria, including subversive elements, with a view to destabilizing the country. We cannot and must not allow this to happen,” he said.
“Never again will the Federal Government allow the kind of violence that was perpetrated across the country under the guise of EndSARS last October. Never again will anyone or group be allowed to destroy cities or to kill and maim innocent citizens, including security agents, under any guise.
“We therefore strongly warn those who are planning to re-occupy Lekki Toll Gate on Saturday to desist. We know that many of those who have been loudest on social media in advertising the plan to reconvene in Lagos on Saturday are not even in Nigeria.
“They are elsewhere around the world fanning the embers of violence and inciting gullible people back home. No one should fall for their antics.”
Mohammed said the federal government is watching the role being played by social media platforms “in this renewed clamour for violence in the country”.
“Recall that the social media platforms that eagerly nudged on the EndSARS protesters, until the situation got out of hand, are the same ones that quickly pulled the plug on even their own President when the chips were down in their own country,” he said.
“I hope we have all learnt our lessons. If we allow them to destroy our country, we will bear the brunt.”