All through last week, the name of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the APC National Leader was all over the social media, as protests rocked Lagos. All sorts of allegations were levelled against him on the night of Tuesday, but promptly Asiwaju Bola Tinubu came out to debunk those frivolous allegations. He spoke to Channels TV during which he revealed how they lied against him. Below are excerpts.
There was a case of sporadic shooting and there were injuries and casualties at Lekki Toll Gate. What’s your take on this?
I was shocked and amazed, knowing fully well that I have the history of an activist and unrepentant protester. And this is the statement I made yesterday appealing to Nigerians and protesters across Nigeria that what they are doing is right and they have the right to free speech, freedom of association and freedom to complain. I have done it before, but that they should please call off the protest and that is how I ended my release. You have a copy with Channels TV.
And tonight, I received a call that the army had attacked the protesters. I was shocked. And in the process of making enquiries, I started picking numbers. Usually, if I don’t have your name, I won’t pick your number unless you come through my PA. This is my number. But when the lives of people are involved, you will start to wonder why the military will attack people with Live bullets. I am extremely shocked and I was ready to complain to the highest level.
If you had followed the tone and the pain in the voices of the people, who spoke on this number earlier, beyond being shocked by the incident of tonight, what are you saying to Nigerian youths as this time is a concern? What should be the next step for government and how would you describe this act because lives have been lost?
It’s the early hours of the morning. There’s no way I can talk to the authority. I have tried to reach the NSA, I tried to reach the head of the army. But I strongly condemn the act but there are other means of settling this. Why would they use live bullets? I condemn this act!
There’s been a lot of links as regards what has happened at the toll gate and the reasons aren’t far to seek. Some have accused you of masterminding what happened at the toll gate because of your business revenue that comes from the toll gate and now these youths have occupied the place and a lot of money have been lost and this may not go down well with any business owner. Do you own this business and how much have you lost?
No. I don’t own the business. It’s a public business. It’s a Lagos State government business and I’m ready to face all enquiry. I don’t have a dime in the investment. We are about 13 days in to the protest now, I was being accused and reported to the president that I was behind the sponsorship of the protest. I appealed to the youth, I also told the governor to please find means and that’s why he set up The Judicial Commission of Enquiry. The governor had gone to the homes of one of the victims to appeal to them. He has approved N200 million for the compensation for those affected. I will never be part of any carnage.
Did you in any way order directly or indirectly, the incident that happened at the Lekki Toll Gate or did you order the shooting of innocent protesters, waving Nigerian flags and sitting down?
I said No. Capital No! I can’t be? It’s not possible. Maybe you are just knowing me. I’m an unapologetic protester myself. I have seen people killed during Abacha, I condemned it. I have gone to detention, have gone to exile to ensure the military must go. How can we shed innocent blood to help the protests? It’s not acceptable. There are other means even if they refused to leave the spot, you can use tear gas. You can use pepper spray. You can use a rubber bullets, but not live ammunition and I don’t believe that the president himself will authorise it.
What should the government be doing to demonstrate they can deal with the situation and people will believe in them?
My advice to the government is to fish out whoever gave the order and put them on trial. I will say the government is slow in fishing out those SARS operatives who are involved in the brutality and the killing of the innocent citizenry that created the protest in the first place. I’m expecting they would have arrested one or two of them. Whoever ordered the attack of the Lekki Toll Gate should be brought to book. It’s only the Chief of Army staff and the President who can give that order.
Can’t a G.O.C do so?
I don’t think so. I don’t know about the army that much.
How do we deal with all those who lost their lives in the Lekki Toll Gate?
I sympathise with all concerned. I have not made any confirmation that there are casualties. I thought I could talk reasonably to some people in government, but if I have been accused 3 weeks ago by the same government I was accused of speaking in support of the protest what else could I have done?