The Lagos State Police Command has justified the use of teargas by its men to disperse fans of the late rapper, Ilerioluwa Olademeji Aloba, aka Mohbad, who converged at the Lekki tollgate on Thursday for a candlelight procession.
According to Police, Muri Okunola Park in Victoria Island was the approved venue of the procession but after it ended at 8 pm at the approved venue as agreed with the organisers, some persons with ulterior motives converged at Lekki tollgate, obstructing vehicular movement.
The command’s spokesperson, Benjamin Hundeyin, in a statement shared via his X handle on Friday, said the use of teargas was a last resolve, stressing that the police and organisers of the candlelight procession pleaded with those who converged at Lekki tollgate to vacate the road for hours but they didn’t oblige.
He said no that no life was lost neither was there any injury as they “adopted crowd management best practices in engaging the unruly crowd.”
“It is instructive to note that the Lagos State Police Command had an agreement with the organizers of the candlelight procession that the procession was to end at 8pm latest and should terminate at Muri Okunola, Victoria Island. It was clearly stated for the avoidance of doubt that in the interest of all Lagosians and considering the heavy use of the Lekki-Epe Expressway, the Lekki Toll Gate would be a no-go area.
“It, however, became disconcerting that after the procession duly ended at Muri Okunola park as agreed, with the police providing optimal security all through, some persons started gathering at the Lekki Toll Gate with intent to manifest objectives extraneous to the #justiceforMohbad initiative.
“Being a clear violation of the laid down agreement, the Lagos State Police Command invited the procession organizers who came back and joined the officers on ground in persuading the people at the toll gate to disperse peacefully. The organizers equally sent out messages on social media asking everyone to go home, clarifying in clear terms that it was not a protest but a procession which had been successfully concluded. This persuasion and appeal went on for hours, to which the police and organizers met defiance, both in words and action. At this point, all lanes in and out of Lekki had been totally blocked. Vehicular movement on the ever-busy expressway had been brought to a total standstill, leading to traffic build-up.
“Having gone down this road before, having learnt from previous similar encounters, and having studied the pattern in the crowd, the red flags and early warning signs of total chaos and anarchy were discernible.
“Therefore, in fulfillment of our mandate to protect life and property, maintain law and order and prevent crimes, we adopted the least harmful method of crowd dispersal, following the failure of verbal persuasion – the use of teargas. Not a single live ammunition was fired! The police adopted crowd management best practices in engaging the unruly crowd. No life was lost neither was there any injury.”
He stressed that the ongoing investigation into the circumstances leading to the death of Mohbad “is progressing well”.
“The general public is, therefore, requested to avoid creating unnecessary distractions and give the Command the stable internal security space to undertake a conclusive and timeous investigation,” he added.