Policemen numbering about 30 had barricaded the venue of a Free Lagos Orange Movement gathering on Thursday, citing security reasons for preventing entry into the Ikeja Airport Hotel venue of what organisers described as an avenue to review the violence that greeted the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections in the state.
The Police arrived the venue at 10:30a.m in about six vans, preventing entry and exit of vehicles.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that security agents prevented many members of the group who had arrived the venue in about three BRT buses from attending the event.
Free Lagos Orange Movement, on Thursday, decried the violence that characterised the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections in some parts of Lagos State.
Addressing the media after the face-off with security men in Ikeja, one of the conveners of the movement, Mr. Mark Adebayo, said that the election day violence prevented many voters from exercising their civic rights.
He alleged that many were intimidated by those he called ‘agents of bondage’, a development he said was not good for democracy.
Adebayo said that such happenings threatened the emergence of the choices of the people.
He said that the movement was deeply concerned about the control of the state’s resources by a group of people for several years.
The co-convener said it was time to free Lagos State from what he called ‘bondage’ and allow the will of the people to prevail, urging residents to free themselves and their future in the coming election.
Adebayo said it was time to challenge what he called the ‘political hegemony that had maltreated them and cornered their resources’.
He said ‘enough is enough’ of such, urging Lagos residents to arise and use their PVCs to vote for freedom, justice and development in the March 9 governorship and state assembly elections.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that security around the Airport Hotel, Ikeja venue of the media briefing was tense before it took off, forcing a delay in its take-off.
Heavily armed policemen numbering about 30 had arrived the venue at 10:30a.m in about six vans, preventing entry and exit of vehicles.
The situation prevented many members of the group who had arrived the venue in no fewer than three BRT buses from attending the press conference.
Journalists and some group members who had gained access before the arrival of the security agents waited for hours for the commencement of the programme slated for 10a.m.
Adebayo had apologised for the late start of the press conference, blaming it on “serious security situation”.
“We are sorry for the delay, we were having serious security situation. Some people are trying to stop us from holding this programme.
“We are resolving the issue with the Police. We are on top of the situation, please, bear with us, we will soon start,” he had said.
Shortly after the announcement, a reinforcement team of policemen arrived the scene, firing shots into the air to clear the area of people.
Business transaction was temporarily suspended as the hotel’s customers stayed away, while people around were dispersed by the security agents.
Normalcy, however, returned to the hotel later as the gate was open for movement after all buses conveying people into the venue had all been turned back successfully.
Adebayo later addressed journalists within the hotel premises after normalcy had returned to the area.
Reacting to the incident, Police spokesman in the state, CSP Chike Oti, told NAN on telephone that the security agents took the step to prevent threats to peace at the venue.
He said the action did not have any political undertone, as Police responded to a call that some hoodlums were coming to the venue to unleash violence.
“What we did was to respond to security threats distress call at the venue of the programme.
“We got credible information that hoodlums were planning to hijack the programme to unleash violence on those expected to attend.
“We cannot sit back to allow any breach of security, we intervened to prevent criminals from gaining access so that the programme could hold peacefully,”he said.
NAN reports that the policemen were still seen taking positions around the hotel as of 1:20p.m.