As the one week deadline given to ministers to interface with their state governors, stakeholders, and the protesting youths expired on Wednesday, ministers from the South-West have called for a thorough investigation of the involvement of the military in the Lekki Toll Gate shooting.
The ministers, who submitted their report to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, also recommended that the Federal Government should support the Lagos State government to replace damaged facilities in the state.
They also urged the Federal Government to consider short and medium term support to small and medium businesses that were affected by the looting and arson that took place in Lagos and other parts of the country through the Central Bank Intervention Mechanism under the COVID-19 funding.
Recall that President Buhari had, at the Council meeting on October 21, gave directives to ministers to visit their various states and interface with their governors and stakeholders in the wake of the protests by youths against police brutality, especially the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigerian Police Force.
The nationwide protests, which started peacefully, later turned destructive as hoodlums hijacked the exercise, looted and destroyed both public and private property.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the FEC meeting, Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said that ministers of the South-West extraction recommended that the Federal Government seek and support the process of justice for all by ensuring that any of those apprehended and identified to be involved in the perpetration of the Lekki carnage be speedily brought to justice and fairly tried.
He said: “The highlight of the briefing was to make recommendations to the Federal Government to support Lagos State to restore damaged facilities, especially those related to the maintenance of law and order and the administration of justice such as police, court buildings, and forensic laboratory.
“To also consider supporting the Lagos High Court judges, either with the provision of some office accommodation as a temporary relocation when that request is made – of course it was hinted during the visit.
“To also urge the Federal Government to consider short to medium term support to small and medium businesses which were affected by the looting and arson which took place in Lagos and other parts of the country, to see if something can be done through the Central Bank Intervention Mechanism under the COVID-19 funding or any other related funding mechanism.
“And to also ensure that whatever is approved should also involve the National Economic Council, the platform on which state governors meet, so that other states across the country which were also affected, businesses damaged can benefit in addition to Lagos residents who may be supported.
“We also urged the Federal Government to undertake a thorough investigation into what happened at the Lekki Toll Plaza, particularly the role of the military, and ensure that the outcome is made public with a view to achieving closure on the matter.
“We recommended that the Federal Government re-mobilize critical organs and agencies such as the National Orientation Agency and formal educational institutions to focus on ethical re-orientation, inculcation of family values into the school curriculum.
“We recommended focus on etiquette, local reasoning, critical thinking, solution seeking, empathy, self-respect, civic duty and human rights.
“We also recommended the Federal Government to actively seek and support the process of justice for all by ensuring that any of those apprehended and identified to be involved in the perpetration of this carnage be speedily brought to justice and fairly tried.
“We also urged the Federal Government to implement the maintenance of facility management policy approved by FEC in 2019 for Federal Ministries, Department and Agencies, and to encourage states to do the same.
“We do this because we see this as a usual vehicle to help absorb and create immediate employment of skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled labour, in order to address the huge unemployment and poverty related part of the problem.
“This is important because people have skills but we need to provide the economic environment in which those skills can become income earning and self-rewarding.
“We urged the government to also restore confidence in the police and their morale among the officers, and to improve their welfare while tracking the ongoing reforms being undertaken in the police force.
“We also urged the Federal Government to consider, through the Federal Ministry of Health, issues of substance abuse amongst the populace and propose solutions, because this potentially affects mental health.
“We made this recommendation mindful of the global opium and substance abuse crisis and the impact on our country as well. We think this is a matter that requires some attention and focus.”
According to him, the ministers met with governors from the zone and the governors’ position was that Lagos, being the epicentre, commercial and strategic city state in the South-West and the country, should be their point of call.
He said: “The summary is that about 15 police stations were lost, commercial undertakings, especially in Lekki and many other parts in Surulere, were damaged.
“Some schools were also damaged, private properties were also damaged, and public buildings like the City Hall, the Lagos High Court, Lagos Forensic Laboratory and DNA Centre, the Nigerian Ports Authority were also damaged, the palace of the Oba of Lagos and many others.
“So, we presented the documentary evidence presented to us by the government of Lagos State which was shown to the council.”
The South-West ministers on the visit were Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Minister of Trade and Investment, representing Ekiti; Rauf Aregbesola (Interior), representing Osun; Sunday Dare (Youths and Sports Development), representing Oyo; Olamilekan Adegbite (Mines and Steel), representing Ogun; Olorunimbe Mamora (State for Health), representing Lagos, and Tayo Alasoadura (State for Niger Delta Affairs), representing Ondo.