In a recent development, the Lagos State Police Command confirmed on Friday that they had deployed teargas at Lekki Phase 1 on September 21, 2023, to disperse a gathering at the toll gate. This revelation was made via an official statement posted on the Lagos State Police Command’s official page and was signed by the Command Public Relations Officer, SP Benjamin Hundeyin.
The incident in question had been surrounded by controversy, with reports emerging the previous day of tear gas being deployed by the Lagos State Police in the Lekki area, resulting in injuries to several individuals.
According to the official statement issued by the command, it reads: “The Lagos State Police Command is fully aware of false narratives making the rounds in relation to the dispersal of crowds at the Lekki Toll Gate yesterday, September 21, 2023.
“It is instructive to note that the Lagos State Police Command had an agreement with the organizers of the candlelight procession that the procession was to end at 8 pm latest and should terminate at Muri Okunola, Victoria Island. It was clearly stated, for the avoidance of doubt, that in the interest of all Lagosians and considering the heavy use of the Lekki-Epe Expressway, the Lekki Toll Gate would be a no-go area.
“However, it became disconcerting that after the procession duly ended at Muri Okunola Park as agreed, with the police providing optimal security all through, some persons started gathering at the Lekki Toll Gate with the intent to manifest objectives extraneous to the #justiceforMohbad initiative.
“Being a clear violation of the laid-down agreement, the Lagos State Police Command invited the procession organizers, who came back and joined the officers on the ground in persuading the people at the toll gate to disperse peacefully. The organizers equally sent out messages on social media asking everyone to go home, clarifying in clear terms that it was not a protest but a procession that had been successfully concluded. This persuasion and appeal went on for hours, during which the police and organizers met defiance, both in words and action. At this point, all lanes in and out of Lekki had been totally blocked, leading to a traffic buildup on the ever-busy expressway.
“Having experienced similar situations before and learned from previous encounters, and having studied the pattern in the crowd, the red flags and early warning signs of total chaos and anarchy were discernible. Therefore, in fulfillment of our mandate to protect life and property, maintain law and order, and prevent crimes, we adopted the least harmful method of crowd dispersal, following the failure of verbal persuasion – the use of teargas. Not a single live round was fired! The police adopted crowd management best practices in engaging the unruly crowd. No lives were lost, and there were no injuries.
“The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command, hereby warns mischief-makers that any person or group of persons found disturbing the peace of the state, under whatever guise, would be promptly arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
“The Lagos State Police Command also appreciates the procession organizers for keeping faith with the Command and assures all supporters of #justiceforMohbad and Lagosians at large that it would continue to prioritize their safety and security at all times.
“Meanwhile, the ongoing investigation into the circumstances leading to the death of Mr. Ilerioluwa Aloba is progressing well. The general public is, therefore, requested to avoid creating unnecessary distractions and give the Command the stable internal security space to undertake a conclusive and timely investigation.
“In this process, it should be noted that the Lagos State Police Command has, as promised, been interfacing closely and regularly with all meaningful support groups of #justiceforMohbad. This synergy shall be sustained while the general public is assured that they would be continually updated on the progress of the investigation.”
The candlelight vigil in question had been organized in memory of Ilerioluwa Aloba, also known as MohBad, who tragically passed away on September 12. He was laid to rest in the Ikorodu area of Lagos, sparking significant public interest and speculation regarding the circumstances surrounding his death. Notably, his body has been exhumed, and an autopsy has been conducted, with the public eagerly awaiting the results for further insights into the tragic incident.