All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has finally opened up on last Tuesday’s shooting at protesters in Lekki Lagos, saying he had no reason to have ordered the shooting.
Tinubu said contrary to slander against him that he owns Lekki Concession Company (LCC), the firm collecting toll at the Lekki tollgates, he urged people to investigate the matter “and they would discover he has no ownership interest or involvement in the toll gate.”
Tinubu, the former governor of Lagos State, however, recommended that the toll gate which he described as a public asset should be left closed for “an indefinite period” and if reopened the revenues should be donated to “confirmed victims of the Lekki attack as well as other identifiable victims of police brutality in Lagos.”
Newsmen report that Lagos came under heavy arsons on Wednesday in the aftermath of shooting of #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate along the Lekki-Epe expressway in Lagos.
“I was aware of plan to burn down The Nation, TVC”
The two toll gates including the one at Lekki-Ikoyi bridge as well as several properties and businesses linked with Tinubu including the headquarters of Television Continental (TVC) and The Nation Newspapers were razed.
Tinubu in a 3038-word statement titled, “The #EndSARS protest; a fundamental lesson in democratic governance,” however said he is “indeed a promoter and financial investor” in both the Nation and TVC and also had prior knowledge of the plan to burn down the two buildings by those he called “malevolent enemies”.
He said, “The attackers came both facilities were significantly damaged. Although equipped with prior notice of the imminent trespass, I did not call anyone to seek or request for the army or police to deploy let alone attack, kill, or injure those who razed and vandalized these properties.
“I did not want any bloodshed. These elements, mostly hirelings of my political opponents, wreaked their havoc and destroyed those buildings and facilities and I thank God that the employees of these two media institutions managed to escape largely unharmed.
“There is a deeper truth involved here. Burned buildings and damaged equipment can be rebuilt or replaced. There is no adequate substitute for the loss of even a single human life. I am not one to encourage violence. I abhor it. Thus I did nothing that might endanger lives, even the lives of those who destroyed my properties.”
Tinubu said he gained nothing by ordering the shooting of protesters at Lekki, adding that “the present situation clearly does nothing to profit me politically or otherwise.”
“It has complicated matters for me because many people now wrongfully blame me for a violent incident in which I played no part. Still, I stand strongly behind the people of Nigeria and affirm their right to protest peacefully.
“Along with all well-meaning, patriotic Nigerians, I want to see an end to all forms of institutionalised brutality and I shall do my utmost to see that this humane objective is realised,” Tinubu added.
On the Lekki shooting, he insisted that there is no rationale for him to order soldiers to repel peaceful protesters.
According to him, while an investigation has been ordered into the shooting, “a totally accurate picture of the events may never be known.”
He however stressed that based on the outcome of the ordered investigation, there might be the need for the amendment of terms of engagement for deployment of military forces in instances of mostly peaceful civil disobedience and protests.
“Why would I be so moved as to instigate the army to attack peaceful, law-abiding people at the toll gate where I have no pecuniary stake, yet lift not a single finger to stop hired miscreants bent on setting fire to these important media investments?
“The allegations against me make no sense because they are untrue. They are parented by those seeking to stoke and manipulate the people’s anger in order to advance political objectives that have nothing to do with the subject matter of the protests,” he added.
He also said the time has come to take legal actions to create state police, adding that such state-created forces should be based on the modern tenets of community policing and optimal relations and cooperation with local communities.