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Rebuilding damaged infrastructure most important to Lagos now — Omotoso

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Rebuilding damaged infrastructure most important to Lagos now — Omotoso by Kenyans247(1): Sun 01, November, 2020 09:19am
The Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, speaks with OLALEYE ALUKO on the activities of the ongoing Judicial Panel of Enquiry on alleged police brutality in the state and the reported shooting of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers in the Lekki area of Lagos, among other critical issues.
Last week, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu went round the state to assess the level of destruction of public infrastructure by hoodlums, following the alleged shooting of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers in the Lekki area of Lagos. How did the assessment go?

The destruction is on a scale beyond imagination. It is unimaginable and indescribable. For us to begin to put naira and kobo to it now is too early. There is going to be a committee that will consist of various professionals and which will put figures to all of these things. So, we still need to go round and assess what has been destroyed. For me, that is not my area. The destruction was too much.

But the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who is from Lagos, said about N1tn would be needed to rebuild what has been damged. Is the state expecting or soliciting any support from the Federal Government?

That is his (Gbajabiamila) own estimate. Concerning reaching out, there has been no action towards that line. So I cannot say yes or no. I do not know yet. But like I said, the stage where we are is still about assessment and considering the level of damage; before we start to talk about who is coming to help. But so many people have been coming to say, we want to help; how can we help?

About 80 Bus Rapid Transit vehicles worth N3.2bn were burnt during the violence, how soon can Lagos residents expect the return of the BRT buses?

The BRT buses were off the roads because they (hoodlums) kept on destroying them. But I think they should be back on the roads any moment from now, because there seems to be some calm at the moment.

The Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos State said in a statement on Monday that the N1tn estimate of damage was “dishonest and extortionate tendency.” They also called for the closure of the Lekki toll plaza on allegation of extortion. Is that going to happen?

If anybody is trying to bring politics into this issue around this time, you know that the person has lost his humanity. This is something (violence) that happened and lives have been taken unnecessarily. Limbs have been broken and heads have been smashed. How many people are talking about extortion, and all of that? That shows you the kind of people we are dealing with – people who have lost their kindness and humanity. I do not know why anybody should be talking about that now.

The Lagos State Government established an eight-man judicial panel to look at cases of police brutality and the Lekki toll gate incident. A number of victims have started showing up. But some Nigerians are asking why the members of the panel were sworn to an oath of secrecy.

There was no oath of secrecy. What happened was that (and you can go and find out from many government institutions); there are two forms you have to fill when you are a government official and you are serving the public. Like me when I was appointed a commissioner, I had to fill those forms. It is a standard practice. It does not mean anything and anybody who did not want to fill the form was allowed to go. It is a standard form and it is to say for example, if the panel agrees to take a decision, none of the members should go and convey that decision to other people. Not that before you get out of the hall, you put it on social media like Twitter. That is the kind of caution the form serves.

Some Nigerians called on the state government to allow the panel discussions to be put on live television broadcast in the spirit of transparency and accountability. Is the state government considering this?
The panel is on the television live every day. Reporters are also allowed to cover the proceedings.

The military said on Tuesday that it intervened in the Lekki toll gate protests based on a request from the Lagos State Government. Why did the state government earlier deny knowledge of the military deployment?

All of the things you have spoken about before. The destruction by hoodlums and efforts to rebuild damaged infrastructure are the things that concern us now – not who said this and who did not say this, and all of that. People have died, property has been lost, and there is so much anxiety and tension all over the place. This is not the time to be asking who said this and who did not say this.

We are looking forward now on how to rebuild Lagos, how to get back our unity and love that we swore to share as well as how to maintain our humanity and ensure that this kind of incident does not happen again.

So for us, this is not the time to begin to argue what did they say, what did they not say.

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