#OccupyLekki: Govt ensured protesters’ rights were protected, says Lagos attorney-general

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Moyosore Onigbanjo, attorney-general and commissioner for justice in Lagos, says the state government ensured that the rights of the #OccupyLekkiTollGate protesters were not breached.

In a video that went viral on Saturday, the protesters, who were demonstrating against the resumption of operations at the Lekki tollgate, were arrested and crowded inside what appeared to be a van, with many of them half-naked.

The youths were later charged to court, and granted bail.

Speaking on Sunday when he featured on Politics Today, a Channels Television programme, the attorney-general condemned the brutalisation of the protesters, adding that the police will give account of what happened at the tollgate on Saturday.

He also noted that the state derives no joy in seeing people harassed, adding that the government’s responsibility is to maintain law and order.

“Your right to protest only extends to where the other person’s right to his own freedom of association and movement starts,” he said.

“We condemn any act of brutality and dehumanisation on the part of the police or anybody for that matter. There are three ways to address this. Firstly, is for the commissioner of police himself to set up what is known as an orderly room trial.

“Secondly, if investigation reveals that any police officer abused their authority, and these facts are sent to the DPP’s office, and the DPP says that the policeman or woman has a case to answer, appropriate charges will be filed.

“The third leg of it, even these citizens who claimed that they were brutalised also have the option to sue the police to court for this act which they alleged.

“In Nigeria, if you are arrested on a Friday, you are probably going to end up in a police station or whatever detention till the next week, but we made sure that the court sat late on Saturday to ensure that people that were arrested were released to go home.

“I think that in itself showed the intention of the state government to ensure that rights are protected on both sides. The state government is there for people who support it and people who don’t support it. We are bound by the law and we ensure that the law is carried out to the letter.

“It could have been very easy to say court will not sit till Monday, but we did not do that. We chose to get a magistrate there through the mobile court. We chose to get prosecutors there, and they were granted bail and all of them released. It is another thing that could have happened. They could have been granted bail and they say, ‘it is a Saturday evening, the paper work cannot be concluded till Monday.’

“But that didn’t happen, because we’re hellbent on ensuring that nobody’s right is trampled upon.”

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