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Debo Macaroni arrested, 11 others arraigned before Yaba court for #OcuppyLekkitollgate, released

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Popular Nigerian comedian and content creator, Debo Adebayo, popularly known as Debo Macaroni, and 11 other Nigerians, who were seemingly passing through the Lekki toll gate, venue of a planned protest, were on Saturday arrested by the Nigerian police, according to the BBC.

One of the persons arrested, Damilare Adenola, told the BBC that he only came to the toll gate to “observe what was going on in the area.

Despite his protestations that he was just “a Nigerian with rights to go anywhere I feel like,” the police still threw him inside their van, popularly called ‘Black Maria’ alongside other persons arrested.

Damilare Adenola inside police van
Damilare Adenola inside the police van. Credit: BBC
Bystander wey chop arrest

Debo Macaroni had gone live on Instagram to tell “the world how the Nigerian police abuse human rights in Nigeria.”

During the live broadcast, Macaroni talked about how he was just going about his normal business before he decided to go the protest venue to “see things for myself”.

Macaroni bin do instagram live inside police van afta dem arrest am
Macaroni on Instagram live inside the police van after the arrest. Credit: BBC

Minutes after going live from inside the van, policemen entered the vehicle with and confiscated his phone.

The arrested persons were immediately charged to the Yaba Magistrate Court on three counts:

  1. Conspiring to commit a misdemeanour or conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace.
  2. Gathering at Lekki Toll Plaza being a public place to harass and cause unnecessary alarm and panic in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace.
  3. Failing to comply with the Restriction/Prohibition Quarantine Law which prohibits any social gathering to avoid spreading and contacting of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
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Interestingly, Debo Adebayo’s name was not on the charge sheet.

The arrested persons were later released on bail.

The moment phones were confiscated by the police.

The arrests drew immediate condemnation by Nigerians who reiterated that Nigerians had a right to protest and if such protests were peaceful, there was no need arresting the protesters. One such condemnation was from Folarin Falana alias Falz.

It was reported that groups had planned to occupy the Lekki toll gate with demonstrations using hash tags like #OcuppyLekkitollgate, #DefendLagos and #DemNoBornDemWell to protest the authorities’ decision to return the toll plaza to its commercial operators.

Some Nigerians had felt that it was not right for government to reopen the toll gate which was the scene of the 20 October, 2020 incident where protesters allegedly suffered injuries due to gunshots.

Before February 13, the Nigerian government and the police had said they will not tolerate any form of #EndSARS protests anymore in Lagos or any other part of the country.

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The Nigerian government had issued a serious warning to people planning fresh protests to desist from doing so as they had received intelligence reports that some Nigerian activists had linked up with persons outside Nigeria, to destabilize the country.

  • with BBC reports

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