Banky W slams Lagos govt amid plans to reopen Lekki Tollgate

Deborah Dan-Awoh

Banky W describes the Lagos state government's move as disregard for the pains young Nigerians felt during the killings at the tollgate.

Banky W slams Lagos State government for plans to reopen Lekki Tollgate

On Friday, March 18, 2022, Nigerian music star Bankole Wellington popularly known as Banky W, slammed the Lagos State government over its plans to reopen the Lekki toll gate via his Twitter page.

Earlier this week(Monday), in a statement, the state commissioner for information, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, the Lekki Concession Company (LCC), revealed plans to open the toll gate for business on Friday, April 1, 2022.

However, commuters will have access to the toll gate for free for two weeks.

In addition, the Lekki Concession Company Limited (LCC), in a statement, announced that although operations would begin on April 1st, fees would not be collected until April 15th.

Banky W in a series of Tweets blasted the Lagos State government for making such an insensitive announcement owing to the tragedy that occurred at the Lekki Tollgate.

"The intended resumption of collections at the Lekki toll gate is yet another example of a serious lack of empathy by the Lagos State Govt. Life in Nigeria has been extremely difficult. All things being considered, the timing of this decision is just unfair," he tweeted.

Further adding, Banky described the Lagos government's decision as a complete disregard for the youths and an attempt to open up old wounds.

"Lagos State is exhibiting a blatant disregard - not just for the pain felt by all the young people who were hurt by the events of #EndSARS, but also the pain and difficulty being experienced by the majority of Lagosians just trying to survive in these difficult times," he added.

An endsars protester

The Lekki toll gate was one of the grounds used for the #EndSars protests across the country in 2020. The protest was born out of frustration at the high rate of police brutality towards youths which resulted in many deaths, theft and fear.

The peaceful protest quickly spread across Nigeria and Lagos State.

However, tragedy struck in Oct 2020 when the Lagos State government by 2pm announced a 7pm curfew via Twitter.  Many protesters still went to the Lekki Toll gate unaware of the dangers that lurked in the warning of an impending curfew.

That unfortunate night several young Nigerians were killed at the toll gate after men of the Nigeria Army fired gunshots at them on Oct 20, 2020.

At first the Lagos State government and officials denied there were any killings but in the light of recent investigations the narrative has been changed.

According to the Vanguard, the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters (Lagos EndSARS Panel) reported the Lekki Tollgate shootings of October 20, 2020 as a massacre.

The panel accused soldiers and incriminated Nigeria’s security agents in the killing and forced disappearances of harmless and unarmed youths protesting at Lekki Tollgate on October 20, 2020.

The Justice Doris Okuwobi-led panel made the revelation in a 309-page report submitted to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State on Monday.

Endsars Protester

What did the panel find out?

According to the report, at least 48 protesters were shot dead or injured or assaulted.

Also, page 294 of the report read: “The atrocious maiming and killing of unarmed, helpless and unresisting protesters, while sitting on the floor and waving their Nigerian flags while singing the National Anthem can be equated to a ‘massacre’ in context.”

On page 295: “It was alleged and corroborated that the soldiers had their vans parked at the Lekki Toll Gate and removed as many bodies and corpses of the fallen protesters they took away with their vans.”

These reports have proved that innocent peaceful protester, while singing the national anthem, was murdered in cold blood by security personnel meant to be protecting them.

It is for this reason that Banky W lashes out so vehemently at the Lagos State government