EndSARS United, a rights group, has kicked against the resumption of tolling on the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge, adding that they would resist the move.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday in Lagos, Ayoyinka Oni, a representative of the group, said the Lagos State government is “indifferent to (the) wanton waste of human lives at Lekki” and other parts of the state in October 2020.
“We condemn this vampirish disposition. And we will not merely condemn these shenanigans of the state. We will resist it,” Mr Oni said.
The Lekki Concession Company Limited (LCC) shut down the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge and the Lekki-Epe toll gate following the October 2020 #EndSARS protests which saw officers of the Nigerian Army open fire on unarmed protesters at the Lekki toll plaza.
The LCC in March announced plans to resume activities at the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge Toll Plaza by April 1.
According to Yomi Omomuwasan, the company’s Managing Director, LCC would offer motorists a two-week toll-free passage until April 16.
The announcement drew opposition from several Nigerians and residents who use the bridge.
Mr Oni said the state government has been trying “all tricks in the book to go ahead with its devious and unacceptable atrocious plans.
“It has done all it can to win Lekki residents to its side, or blackmail those who see through its schemes, aimed at reopening the tollgate for business.
“But we are happy many patriotic residents are still on the side of justice. We hasten to point out that the tollgate enterprise itself had been adjudged illegal by a court of competent jurisdiction in 2014, six years before the EndSARS protests.”
In 2014, Federal High Court in Lagos ruled that the Lagos State government does not have an existing law permitting it to collect tolls on the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge.
“It was bad enough for a government which should uphold the rule of law to have thus operated illegally for more than half a decade,” Mr Oni continued.
“For it to want to continue tolling thereafter the bloodshed, is simply wanting to keep sucking the blood of the sufferers, most wantonly.”
The group said that it is unacceptable that the government is “only concerned with making money” instead of implementing the recommendations of the judicial panel of inquiry.
A lawyer and rights activist, Dele Farotimi, said the tolling on the Lekki-Ikoyi link bridge is unlawful and is in contempt of a judgment of a federal high court.
He said there is no legal basis for the toll fare collection, adding that “when the government talks about the maintenance of peace, must peace be maintained at the expense of justice?”
He, however, said that he won’t pay the toll fare.
Speaking about plans to protest the resumption of the toll collection on Saturday, Mr Farotimi said “sometimes it better to keep them (government) guessing. We are not going to announce the time and place.”
The group also condemned plans to reopen the Lekki-Epe tollgate, adding that “it should be made a national monument as recommended by the judicial panel.”
“We demand justice for EndSARS victims, rehabilitation of the maimed and wounded, immediate release or fair and open trial of those still in prison because they participated in the protests, Mr Oni said.
“Full implementation of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry’s recommendation report.