The Lagos State Government has warned citizens residing in the southwestern state and who nurture plans to participate in the #OccupyLekkiTollGate protest slated for Saturday that they risk being prosecuted if they fail to comply with the COVID-19 regulations and any other extant laws in the state.
The Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice Moyosore Onigbanjo stated this in a statement on Thursday.
Moyosore, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria noted that while citizens have the right to protest peacefully, such right does not exempt anyone from violating laws.
The statement reads: “Our attention is drawn to the planned protest scheduled for Saturday February 13, 2021 at the Lekki Toll Gate for and against the opening of the Admiralty Toll Gate.
“The State is aware of Sections 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which guarantees the Rights to Freedom of Expression and Peaceful Assembly. However, such right does not permit the violation of the Rights of other citizens in the State.
“While the State recognises the importance of exercising the Rights to Peaceful protests, same cannot extend to blockage of roads and or preventing other members of the public from enjoying their Fundamental Rights to move freely within the State.
“Any person or group with such desire to Protest must also bear in mind the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Health Regulations 2021 which prevents any gathering beyond 50 and other safety measures including but not limited to maintaining Social Distancing and the use of face mask.
“The Attorney General hereby enjoins everyone to ensure compliance with the COVID-19 Regulations and any other extant laws in the State. The right to protest peacefully does not exempt anyone from violating laws. Any violator will therefore be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
“Furthermore, any individual or corporate body who incites or condones any act leading to the destruction of public and private properties shall be prosecuted under the extant laws and in addition to any penalty the court might pronounce, such person or body will be liable to compensate for any damage which is as a result of the action or inaction of such person or body.
“The Nigeria Police is equally urged, that in responding to any protest, it should respect the rights of the citizen as guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and carry out their duties in accordance with the law.”
By Abel Ejikeme