By Milcah Tanimu
Lagos State Police issued a statement on Friday explaining their use of teargas to disperse a gathering at the Lekki Toll gate on September 21, a day that saw a candlelit funeral procession held in honor of the late singer Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Aloba, popularly known as Mohbad, at Victoria Island, Lagos.
In their statement, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, the police spokesman in Lagos State, emphasized that no live ammunition was discharged, and they employed crowd management strategies to handle the unruly crowd, ensuring no injuries or casualties occurred.
Hundeyin went on to address the prevalent misinformation surrounding the incident, particularly regarding the agreement made with the procession organizers. He explained that the police had an arrangement with the organizers to conclude the candlelit procession no later than 8 p.m. at Muri Okunola Park, Victoria Island. Additionally, due to heavy traffic on the Lekki-Epe Expressway, it was agreed that the Lekki Toll Gate would be off-limits.
However, after the procession concluded at Muri Okunola Park with police providing security throughout, some individuals gathered at the Lekki Toll Gate with intentions unrelated to the #justiceforMohbad initiative. This gathering violated the established agreement, prompting the police to engage the procession organizers in persuading the crowd to disperse peacefully.
Despite hours of persuasion and social media messages urging dispersal, the crowd remained defiant, and traffic on the expressway was at a standstill. Given their prior experience with such situations and the potential for chaos, the police decided to use teargas, considering it the least harmful method to disperse the crowd, following the failure of verbal and social media-based persuasion.
The Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Mr. Idowu Owohunwa, issued a warning to individuals or groups causing disturbances, stating that they would be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
The police expressed appreciation for the cooperation of the procession organizers and assured both supporters of #justiceforMohbad and Lagos residents that they would prioritize safety and security. The investigation into Mohbad’s death is ongoing, and the police called on the public to avoid creating unnecessary distractions and allow the police to conduct a conclusive and timely investigation.
Hundeyin emphasized that the police have been working closely with support groups for #justiceforMohbad and pledged to maintain this collaboration while keeping the public informed of the investigation’s progress.