By Benjamin Omoike
The Judicial Panel of Inquiry, which was set up by the Lagos State Government to probe police brutality and the alleged shooting of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers on October 20, 2020, at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos has turned down the request of the Lekki Concession Company (LCC), the operators of the tollgate to take back possession of the tollgate.
While declining the request by LCC, the Chairman of the panel, retired Justice Doris Okuwobi, in a short ruling, said the toll plaza would still remain closed.
The judge said the panel might have a need to pay another visit to the tollgate plaza after watching the video footage from a surveillance camera submitted by the LCC on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
The legal counsel for LCC, Rotimi Seriki, had urged the panel to allow the firm to take over the tollgate plaza to evaluate the level of damage, for the purpose of insurance claims.
Seriki was reinforcing an earlier request at the proceeding by the LCC Managing Director, Abayomi Omomuwa, who said save for last Friday when he led the panel on a visit to the toll plaza, the place had been inaccessible to LCC management.
Omomuwa pointed out that from what he saw during his last visit on Friday, it would take LCC not less than six months to fix the damages on the tollgate plaza, as the level of destruction was so much.
While answering a question on how soon the tollgate would resume operation, Omomuwa said, “Any projection made here will just be guesswork. When we went there that day, I saw the level of damage. The whole tolling system is completely destroyed. It will not take anything less than six months to fix. I want to plead that they let us have access so that we can process insurance.”
Reinforcing Omomuwa’s request, LCC lawyer, Seriki, said, “My humble request is that if the tribunal doesn’t have further need to visit the plaza, the LCC should be permitted to take back possession of the toll plaza for the purpose of evaluation of the damage and commence the process of carrying out necessary repairs.”
But ruling, Justice Okuwobi said the panel agreed that it was necessary for LCC to go and evaluate the level of damage, “but we will not grant that access yet. The need may arise for the panel to revisit.”
The panel chairman encouraged LCC to make the application after the panel must have watched the video footage submitted by the firm.