Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Dingyadi, on Tuesday, said ‘minimum force’ was used on #OccupyLekki protesters last Saturday.
He spoke while featuring on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily’ programme monitored by The PUNCH.
He also said the policemen deployed in the toll gate were well-kitted and maintained professionalism in restraining the protesters.
Dingyadi said, “This is the kind of things that we want to take place in any situation that we find ourselves. Like what you saw in Lekki, this is how it is supposed to be, they were fully equipped, well-uniformed and they were ready for the #EndSARS protesters. That was why we were able to contain the situation.”
Popular comedian Debo Adebayo, also known as Mr Macaroni, and 39 other #OccupyLekki protesters were arrested and stripped naked last Saturday for protesting at the Lekki toll gate where they kicked against the reopening of the toll gate and demanded that justice be served to the victims of the October 20 2020 #EndSARS protest allegedly shot by soldiers at the toll plaza.
Many civil rights organisations including Amnesty International and the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project have condemned the inhumane act levelled against the protesters, who were later arraigned before a mobile court and released on bail.
In viral video clips, Mr Macaroni and the other protesters were cramped in a commercial bus while police officers beat them. The video also showed the hands of some protesters handcuffed behind them.
The video sparked outrage on social media and the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Hakeem Odumosu, who “condemned” the molestation of the protesters, also ordered a probe of the trending video showing the arrested protesters being subjected to dehumanizing conditions.
When confronted that police operatives used force on the protesters, the police affairs minister said on Tuesday that “minimum force” was necessary to arrest the protesters.
Dingyadi said, “Minimum force was used. People always say that the police use force but you forget the fact that for you to ask somebody to please move this side, please be orderly, you have to use some level of force, you have to use some minimum level of force to ensure that people comply with what you are saying. I’m not talking about shooting, I’m not talking about teargas, you have seen some people ask some people to go into (Black) Maria.”
The PUNCH had earlier reported that some of the arrested persons said they were passersby hauled and indiscriminately arrested by the police.
Reacting, the police affairs minister said, “How will the police arrest you if you are not part of a situation? How will they see you to arrest you? If you are not in Lekki, why will they arrest you? They cannot pursue people on the street to arrest them.”
Dingyadi also said that Lekki was not a place for protest as there were “designated” protest grounds for “orderly” demonstrations.
“Lekki is not a place for protest, there are specific areas that are assigned or designated as areas for protests. We agreed that protests should be conducted when the need arises but we cannot be protesting everywhere at all times. We have to have specific locations where these protests are conducted and they have to be orderly, they have to be reasonable and they have to be with level of minimum sense of nationality so that we don’t just allow every protest to take place without no course,” he noted.