Police charge Lekki tollgate protesters with ‘breaching public peace, coronavirus protocol’

A man detained by the police speaks to the media during a protest against the reopening of the Lekki toll gate in Lagos, Nigeria, on February 13, 2021. REUTERS-Temilade Adelaja

The Lagos police have brought charges against 40 protesters detained at the Lekki tollbooth on Saturday in court for violating public order.

The arrested protesters include Debo Adebayo, popularly known as Mr Macaroni, Dabiraoluwa Adeyinka, Damilare Adenola, Anjorin Joseph, Paul Terkuma and Anisere Sodiq.

The protesters were indicted in the Lagos State Court of First Instance, Yaba.

In the charge sheet obtained by the journalists, they were charged with three charges, including failure to comply with the “Quarantine Law that prohibits any social gathering to prevent the spread and contact of the coronavirus disease.”

The other charges are “disturbing public order, harassment and unnecessarily alarming the public.”

Journalists previously reported on the arrest of the protesters and how they were mistreated by police officers. They were also reportedly denied access to their lawyers, some activists claim.

According to the charge sheet, the police said that the protesters “conspired among you (themselves) to commit a misdemeanor, that is, conduct that could cause a breach of public order and therefore committed a crime punishable in under article 412 of the Lagos State Penal Law. , 2015 ″.

The second charge for which they were indicted also establishes that the protesters gathered, “to harass and cause unnecessary alarms and panic in a way that may cause a breakdown of the peace and therefore committed a crime contrary to article 168 (1) (e) and punishable by virtue of article 168 (2) of the Penal Law of the State of Lagos, 2015 ”.

The protesters were also charged with non-compliance with the COVID-19 law recently passed by the federal government.

“That you, the Defendants named above on February 13, 2021 at Lekki Toll Plaza in the Yaba Magisterial District, failed to comply with the Quarantine Restriction / Prohibition Act that prohibits any social gathering to prevent the spread and contact of the Corona Virus Disease (COVID -19) and therefore committed a crime punishable under Section 5 of the Quarantine Act Q2 Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004 as domesticated under the Public Health Act CH: P: Laws of the Lagos State of Nigeria, 2015 ”, says the court document.

The right to protest is a fundamental human right in Nigeria, but on Saturday police repressed several protesters who were unarmed.

The detention of the peaceful protesters has been condemned by different groups and individuals, and many have called for their unconditional release.

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