The Nigerian police have given the reasons for firing teargas at the candlelight procession for the late singer, Ilerioluwa Oladimeji popularly called Mohbad.
The death of late singer Mohbad led to a candlelight procession and tribute to be organised for him in the evening of September 21, 2023.
The candlelight procession which started at 5pm at Lekki Phase 1 gate and ended at the Muri Okunola Park in Victoria Island soon turned chaotic after many of the late singer’s fans refused to go home and converged at the Lekki Toll Gate.
Videos that surfaced social media showed mourners scampering for safety after teargas canisters were shot to disperse those who had converged in the area to protest the death of the deceased Afrobeat star.
However, the Lagos State Police Command on Friday reacting to accusations making the rounds that it dispersed Nigerians who converged to honour the deceased singer with tear gas, said it had an agreement with the organisers of the candlelight procession to end the event at 8 pm
The statement signed by its spokesperson, Ben Hundeyin noted that the organisers ended the candlelight procession that was held at Muri Okunola, Victoria Island, as agreed.
“It was clearly stated for the avoidance of doubt that in the interest of all Lagosians and considering the heavy use of the Lekki-Epe Expressway, the Lekki Toll Gate would be a no-go area.
“It, however, became disconcerting that after the procession duly ended at Muri Okunola park as agreed, with the police providing optimal security all through, some persons started gathering at the Lekki Toll Gate with intent to manifest objectives extraneous to the #justiceforMohbad initiative,” the police said.
Consequently, the police said they invited the procession organisers who joined the “officers on ground in persuading the people at the toll gate to disperse peacefully.”
He noted that the organisers equally sent out messages on social media asking Nigerians to go home, “clarifying in clear terms that it was not a protest but a procession which had been successfully concluded.”
The statement read partly: “This persuasion and appeal went on for hours, to which the police and organisers met defiance, both in words and action. At this point, all lanes in and out of Lekki had been totally blocked.
“Vehicular movement on the ever-busy expressway had been brought to a total standstill, leading to traffic build up.
“Having gone down this road before, having learnt from previous similar encounters, and having studied the pattern in the crowd, the red flags and early warning signs of total chaos and anarchy were discernible.
“Therefore, in fulfilment of our mandate to protect life and property, maintain law and order and prevent crimes, we adopted the least harmful method of crowd dispersal, following the failure of verbal persuasion – the use of teargas.
“Not a single live ammunition was fired! The police adopted crowd management best practices in engaging the unruly crowd. No life was lost, nor was there any injury.
“The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command, hereby warns mischief makers that any person or group of persons found disturbing the peace of the state, under whatever guise, would be promptly arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
“The Lagos State Police Command also appreciates the procession organisers for keeping faith with the Command and assures all supporters of #justiceforMohbad and Lagosians at large that it would continue to prioritise their safety and security at all times.
“Meanwhile, the ongoing investigation into the circumstances leading to the death of Mr Ilerioluwa Aloba is progressing well.
“The general public are, therefore, requested to avoid creating unnecessary distractions and give the Command the stable internal security space to undertake a conclusive and timeous investigation.
“In this process, it should be noted that the Lagos State Police Command has, as promised, been interfacing closely and regularly with all meaningful support groups of #justiceforMohbad.
“This synergy shall be sustained while the general public is assured that they will be continually updated on the progress of the investigation.”