National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday denied alleged complicity in last Tuesday’s controversial deployment of the military to shoot and disperse peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Tinubu, a former Governor of Lagos State, also denied having any pecuniary interests in the toll gate and accused his political opponents of promoting false and twisted narratives of what happened in order to blackmail him.
He said that the narrative that he ordered the attack on the protesters because he owned the concession to the toll gate and was losing revenue to the twoweek blockade of the facility was blatant falsehood.
He expressed grief for those who lost their lives or were wounded during the stampede, stressing that the trauma could have been avoided and no one should have been made to pay such a dear price because one participated in a peaceful protest.
According to Tinubu, citizens have rights under the constitution to protest against bad policies of the government and should be free to express their grievances peacefully and without molestation.
He also condemned the use of excessive force to quell civil protests, recalling that many years ago, he was on the streets several times protesting the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential elections in Nigeria. “I have been falsely accused of ordering the reported deployment of soldiers against peaceful protesters that took place at Lekki on 20 October 2020.
This allegation is a complete and terrible lie. I did not order this or any assault against anybody. I would never want such a vile thing to happen nor did I have any prior knowledge about this sad event. It is my firm belief that no one should be harassed, injured or possibly killed for doing what they have the constitutional right to do in making their contribution to a better, more equitable society.
“As a political figure, I am accustomed to people attributing to me all manner of indiscretions of which I have no knowledge and name because they hide ulterior motives and harbour unrequited political scores they intend to settle.
“A week ago, such people tried to bring enmity between me and the state and federal governments by contending I was sponsoring the protests.
When that did not work, they then sought to sow enmity between me and the people by saying I ordered soldiers to quash the very same protests they first accused me of organising. “My opponents have every right to oppose me politically but let them have the courage to do so in the open, above board and to employ facts not evil fiction in their efforts against me.
They have no right to slander and defame anyone with the terrible and vile fabrications now cast at my feet. Those who have decided to hate me will hate me regardless of the truth. Again, they have the right to think as they may and I am not troubled by their unfounded animus.
Today, I speak not to them. I leave them to the workings of their own conscience. “…I ask people to thoroughly investigate the matter of my alleged ownership of the toll gate.
By seeking facts, instead of being swayed by gossip, you will find I have no ownership interest or involvement in the toll gate. Having no business interests in the operation, my income remains unchanged whether one or 100,000 vehicles pass through that gate.
“At bottom, the toll gate is a public asset. Given what has happened, I would like to propose to government that the toll gate be left closed for an indefinite period. If it is reopened, revenues should be donated to the confirmed victims of the Lekki attack as well as to other identifiable victims of police brutality in Lagos.
Let government use the money to compensate and take care of those who have lost life or limb in the struggle for all citizens to go about the quiet, peaceful enjoyment of life without fear of undue harassment at this or that checkpoint,” he said. On the other hand,
Tinubu admitted ownership of The Nation newspaper and Television Continental (TVC) whose facilities were destroyed by mobs in the aftermath of the shooting incident at the Lekki toll gate.