Babajide Sanwo-Olu
Babajide Sanwo-Olu

Sanwo-Olu is faced with another struggle to win youth’s trust after botched #ENDSARS memorial

NEWS DIGEST – Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is again having to prove he is a governor who believes in free speech and respects human rights.

A year after the 2020 #EndSARS protest, which had video evidence of the Nigerian military opening fire at protesters at the Lekki tollgate, the Sanwo-Olu administration finds itself again in the crosshairs. This time, for an #EndSARS memorial that was botched by the Nigerian police.

Many Nigerian youths still fault Gov. Sanwo-Olu for failing to control the Nigerian military despite multiple attempts by his administration to explain he doesn’t have jurisdiction over the Nigerian army.

The supervision of Wednesday’s memorial by the Nigerian police was criticised by protesters who claim arrests were made for no offence whatsoever.

One of the arrested persons claimed he was beaten, stripped of his phone and money. “The police have not learnt their lessons,” he said after his release.

The Nigerian police were reported to shoot teargas in its bid to dispatch protesters gathered at the Lekki tollgate.

State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, defends his principal saying there was no attempt by the state government to foil the #EndSARS memorial event.

“Mr. Governor will always allow free speech,” Mr Omotoso said. “He can only advise the Commissioner of Police who doesn’t report to him.”

Prominent protesters, Comedian Mr Macaroni and Singer Falz, had originally planned to have the memorial at the Landmark Event Centre after the request of a peaceful walk to Tollgate was rejected.

On Monday, Mr Macaroni said on his Instagram that officials at the Landmark Event Centre were threatened by “some powers above” to deny protesters access to use the centre.

But stunned by the rumour that he had instructed owners of the Landmark to bar organisers from using its building, Mr Sanwo-Olu immediately called the owners to request what happened, according to Mr Omotoso.

Mr Sanwo-Olu was told that the decision was an effort to safeguard their customers and property “because they do not know where it could end like what happened last year,” Mr Omotoso added.

In the interview with Arise TV, Mr Omotoso sounded out as one keen to protect the repute of Mr Sanwo-Olu, who is only two years into his first term as governor of Lagos state, as a person who respects citizens’ right to demonstrations.

In the next gubernatorial election, two years from now, the advocacy of Lagos increasing number of young adults could well determine if Mr Sanwo Olu is re-elected into office.

The Lagos Judicial Panel set up by Gov. Sanwo-Olu to investigate SARS related abuses, the October 2020 Lekki Tollgate shootings and effect restitution where necessary, has already begun to award compensations to victims.

Compensations awarded on Monday to 24 petitioners took the total compensations to N410 million, N210 million more than the initial budget by the state government. 71 petitioners have benefited from the cash compensations.

Although the scope of the Judicial panel was widened to cover the Lekki Tollgate shootings, its investigation of that incident remains unknown.