Richard Elesho/ Lokoja
In the last few days, the job of the Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has become unenviable, courtesy of the ongoing #EbdSARS Protests. For the second time in about 24 hours, the Governor laboured hard to explain his efforts to prevent the protests from degenerating to a state of anarchy.
Sanwo-Olu in a broadcast on Wednesday morning had regretted the dimension the protest was taking and appealed for calm. In a second appearance he explained that government imposed curfew in the hope of restoring normalcy to social order in the State.
The Governor spoke Thursday morning on Arise TV. He debunked insinuations in some quarters that the aftermath of the Lekki exercise was premeditated. Tracing the Genesis of the mayhem he recalled:
“We saw the breakdown of law and order and there was mayhem and prior instruction had been given to the police to stand down. We set up a panel and hoped it would assuage the grievances.
“By Tuesday, we had started seeing destruction and attack on police stations, and arms being carted away. It was turning to a complete breakdown of law and order. I consulted with the Commissioner of Police and members of my security team in the state. And we took a decision to institute a curfew.
“The whole idea was to let people know that they needed to go home. By 5:30 p.m., I got calls from opinion moulders in the state that we need to extend it,” The governor admitted later extending it to 9:00 p.m.
Camera, military invasion and shooting
The Governor also spoke on the involvement of the military in the crisis. He noted that “it was his wife and cabinet members that informed him about the shooting at Lekki toll gate.” He also denied ever ordering that the billboard light should be put off.
“Nobody ordered the removal of cameras at the Lekki tollgate. The MD of LCC said because of the curfew, they made the decision to take out installations. The cameras you saw are not security or motion cameras, they are laser cameras for vehicles. The security cameras are still available and we are using them for our security investigations.”
He condemned the military invasion and said he has reported the matter at the highest military level. He said “he has no knowledge about the protocols of the military and how they come out of their chain of command.
“I don’t know how the officers got it all wrong because the instruction was that police won’t be out until 10-10:30 p.m. when all citizens should have gotten to their various homes. This is totally against what we stand for.
“The army does not report to me, I have reported the matter to the highest command in the military. It’s not something we are going to gloss over. A judicial panel will be set up to investigate it. I have escalated it to the highest level of the military.”
Speaking on Wednesday’s destruction across the state, he said “how did we get to a place where people are destroying our heritage…destroying brand new public transportation buses that are meant to make lives easier?”
“The unfortunate incident is not me. I was the first Governor to join the protesters in solidarity, the first to engage with the youth, and also took their requests to the president.
“I’m calling on the youth to send their representatives to the Judicial Panel of Inquiry so that we can have real evidence and make a closure on most of the agitations.
The Governor further reiterated his call for calm and peace.
“Let all opinion moulders including religious leaders and traditional leaders to speak up and speak out now and stop this and restrain the youth going out to commit arson. We do not want to keep the police on the streets longer than necessary. We need to slow down and pause and think through what we’re going through right now.
“This is not what we stand for, Lagos has been the most peaceful part of the country for decades. Former President Obasanjo has spoken, our uncle – Wole Soyinka (Nobel Laureate) has spoken. We need to restore order.