Many Nigerians have taken to the social media to condemn the reopening of the Lekki Toll gate as a result of events that led to shutdown of business operations in the place.
The Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry had on Saturday asked the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) to repossess the Lekki tollgate, noting that insurers can commence assessment of the damage at the facility, renovate and resume its business.
But Nigerians have kicked against this decision with claims that months of toll-free passage at the toll gate eased movement and reduced the burden of traffic jams.
A Twitter user and road user, Suraj Oyewale (Jarus) @Jarushub said, "Closure of Lekki toll gate saves me N9,000 per month and 20 minutes in daily travel time."
Another user, Lerkkzzy @lerkkzzy tweeted, "Lekki toll gate is providing jobs yeah? Pls how many percent of employment is toll handling please? Compared to the unemployment state of the country, I guess we are all blocked in the head, the rate at which traffic has reduced on the Lekki-Epe Expressway because of free flow of traffic."
Nkem4eva @nwaegbe_nkem noted, "How many people work at the toll gate compared to the number of people inconvenienced at the toll everyday cos some people want to continue to bleed citizens so they can live in decadence? I have not added the people killed & maimed during #EndSARS to this mix."
Oluyemi Fasipe @YemieFash posted, "For the simple fact that the LCC was unable to provide access to their CCTV servers for the forensic expert employed by the @LagosSARSPanel to authenticate the footage they submitted. The reopening of the Lekki toll gate was unwarranted."
Ayo Sogunro @AyoSogunro wrote, "The Lekki toll gate is literally the government making money from the suffering of the road users. I was on that road several times last month and just had to marvel at the difference in the flow of traffic without the gates. #EndSARS."
@Denji_Ali said, "At this point, one must just agree that these old people are willing to make the younger generation redundant and bound to their strings. People should refuse to pay at the toll gate until justice is met! I don't even want to hear anything about revenue or anything!"
Twitter user Offside @Sylvia_ikeji said, "I've been saying this since. I don’t understand the essence of the toll gate. Traffic will return just to make life more difficult for Lagosians. Toll that’s useless to the people. Robbing us of our money to fill the pockets of a few. I’m so angry."
A citizen of new Nigeria @feel_NN said the toll gate ought not be reopened, considering what happened at the spot on October 20, 2020.
He tweeted, "It was an ATM in the middle of town...That toll gate caused headaches, heartaches, broken homes, depression and many deaths with needless traffic...No right thinking government should think about bringing it back…Particularly, after what happened on the 20:10:20...#EndSARS."
Tjebs @teejebs is of the opinion that the toll gate causes traffic jams on the roads. "Those toll gates cause unnecessary traffic on the road. The Lekki link bridge toll gate defeats the purpose of that bridge to improve road user experience. I hope @followlasg and @jidesanwoolu have studied and analysed the results of this unintended experiment."
Wale Adetona @iSlimfit, "If you consider the man hour being wasted in that Lekki Toll Gate traffic every day, morning and evening, reopening it should be the last option."
Some are, however, of the opinion that if the toll gate is reopened, protesters should gather at the spot so as to discourage business activities.
[email protected] @FestusGreen said, "If Lagos State Govt decides to re-open the Lekki Toll Gate without & before serving justice to the harassed, wounded, murdered, etc. at #LekkiMassacre & #EndSARS protests, then we must all, as a matter of urgency, occupy that useless toll gate until our demands are met."
Oluwa Samuel @oluwa_samuel, "If the tollgate is reopened, then we hit the streets again to continue the protest from where we stopped. The death of the protesters in Lekki toll gate should not go in vain."
However, a Twitter user in support of the reopening argued for the loss of jobs of staff members employed by the LCC and the internally generated revenue that has been reduced as a result of the closure.
Theresa Tekenah @Theresa Tekenah wrote, "Lekki Toll gate is providing jobs, revenue for Lagosians and there is a legal agreement between Lekki Concession Company Limited and Lagos State government. The toll gate cannot remain closed because of the sentiments of certain people."
Taking to her Twitter page on Saturday, human rights activist, Bolatito Oduala, popularly known as Rinu, said she, alongside other youth representatives on the panel, disagreed with the reopening of the toll gate.
Her tweet read, "Let it be known that today, I and @TemiOanu, dissented to the reopening of the Lekki Toll Gate on the Lagos Panel.
"This, as a result of LCC inability to provide access to their CCTV servers for the forensic expert employed by the panel to authenticate the footage they submitted
"Also, we are of the view that the investigations into the Lekki Toll Gate incidence have barely begun, and so the Lekki Toll Gate should remain shut until full investigations are concluded by the Panel. Also, the ruling that Lekki Toll Gate should be reopened cannot hold, as a quorum wasn’t formed today with the youth representatives absent.
"It is also pertinent to note that 5 of 9 can’t form a proper quorum. It should also be noted that the ruling did not include our dissenting opinions as members of the panel. This stand was also taken by Ebun Adegboruwa (SAN) and Ms. Patience Udoh, members of the Civil Society Group.
"Five other members of the panel held the view that the Toll Gate should be allowed to reopen. LCC has questions to answer. We remain committed to getting justice. #EndSARS.”
Oduala had also shared on her twitter handle that she was being threatened.
On the opposing side, Segun Awosanya, better known as Segalink, a member of the Lagos state judicial panel, says it is not in the “spirit of justice” for the Lekki tollgate gate to remain shut after the panel’s forensic team are done with their investigation at the site.
The development sparked outrage on social media, especially on the microblogging platform, Twitter, as some Nigerians criticised Segalink for supporting the ruling.
Amid the criticisms, Segalink, in a series of tweets on Sunday, gave reasons he supported the ruling, noting that it is not logical to shut down the Lekki toll gate, even as the army and the police are not shut down amid the ongoing investigation.
He noted that since the panel’s forensic team had completed work at the site, there was no need to lock down the tollgate.
He tweeted, “It is futile making logical sense when emotions are running wild. Where in the world do you deploy sentiments & injustice to obtain justice? Is the panel an opinion panel or a judicial panel? Have you taken out time to read the ruling? Did this nullify the cases? Is this the end?” he said.
“Those manipulating you present you with someone to hate and you march on like zombies to throw tantrums. How does granting access for assessment of damage & initiating repairs a vote against the people when the panel’s forensic team are done at the site? Why lock it down?
“How many scientists do you find staying perpetually by the microscope without leaving to work on his findings? Recall that people work in the establishment too? We all use that road. Imagine locking the whole road under claims of an ongoing investigation without the need to visit.
“There are always other routes to ensure justice without becoming the demons we fight. We need not make life harder for others just to prove a point. Everyone is entitled to fairness, equity & presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Investigation is done, cases are ongoing.
“Imagine shutting down the police and Army in the name of an ongoing investigation. This to me is not in the spirit of justice. Read the ruling and if it errs on the ground of law, justice and equity, then we can look into that. Thus far, there’s no such claim."