A coalition of 60 civil society groups have vowed to defend Lagos State at all cost against those who are bent on making the state ungovernable since the state’s government rejection of the Panel of Enquiry report on the EndSARS protest.
The civil society groups under the aegis of the Defend Lagos Coalition said they would stand by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on the proposed Lagos Walk for Peace, warning that those sponsoring the EndSARS protest who were not pleased with the White Paper are free to protest freely, but any attempt to replicate the destruction of last year would not be tolerated.
“Let it be made clear here today again, we will defend Lagos using the people’s power.”
The coalition spokesperson, Declan Ihekaire, said that one of the EndSARS protest leaders, Sarah Ibrahim tweeted that Sanwo-Olu has denied the Lekki massacre in his White Paper report, urging the youths to be ready to go back to the streets.
He said: “This is nothing but an act of economic sabotage by the same unseen forces to return to the streets of Lagos and finish the destruction of what they left behind in October 2020 like the Egyptian plagues. Let it be made clear here today again, we will defend Lagos using the people power. It will be purposeful, it will be legal,” the group said.
The coalition also pledged their support for the peaceful walk proposed by the state governor, assuring him that he would not walk alone, and that they will stand by him.
“It is in pursuit of this peace objective that the Defend Lagos Coalition hereby accepts the invitation of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to the planned Lagos Peace Walk.
“For avoidance of doubt, Governor Sanwo-Olu, please be assured that you will not walk alone. We will walk with you shoulder-to-shoulder. We have commenced the sensitisation and mobilisation of our members from the nooks and crannies of Lagos,” the group insisted.
When asked if the walk will not propel the EndSARS agitators to stage a counter-protest walk, which may ignite crisis or violence, one of the leaders of the group, Comrade Dayo Ogunlana, said they were not against anybody protesting so far it was in line with the confines of the law.
He emphasised that they will not tolerate any protest that would lead to destruction of lives, property of members of the public or that of the government.
The group added that those bandying the massacre narrative had a bigger agenda than Lagosians and Nigerians and that with time, the truth shall unfold.
The coalition also commended Governor Sanwo-Olu for the exemplary spirit of statesmanship he displayed in reaching out to some of the leaders of the EndSARS protest movement during his broadcast last Tuesday.
It noted the fact that the state government met the 14-day timeline it set for the release of White Paper on the panel report was a virtue.
The coalition, however, appealed to the state government to begin the full implementation of all the recommendations stated in the White Paper that were within its purview without delay, just as the governor was urged to rally all the necessary institutions to push for necessary reforms in the Nigerian Police.