The Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led government of Lagos State has turned down the request by rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, to release footage of the Closed-Circuit Television capturing the shooting and killing of peaceful #ENDSARS protesters at Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos, on October 20, 2020.
In the Freedom of Information request, Effiong asked Governor Sanwo-Olu to make available to him the Certified True Copy of the instrument (official document) setting up the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Special Anti-Robbery Squad Abuses and Lekki Toll Gate incident.
SaharaReporters had reported that Effiong also requested for the executive order or directive under which curfew was imposed on the state from 9:00pm on 20th October, as well as the CCTV records showing the attack on protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate.
Turning down the request, Governor Sanwo-Olu in a letter signed by a lawyer, Deyemi Bamgbose, for the Attorney-General of Lagos, said he cannot grant the request because the FOI Act was not binding on Lagos State.
“The laws of Lagos do not include the Freedom of Information Act which is a federal law that is not applicable to the state, as such your request cannot be granted,” the reply reads partly.
In backing his position, the governor cited a decision of the Edo Division of the Court of Appeal in EDOSACA V OSAKUE in support of his case.
Findings, however, revealed that in Alo V Speaker, Ondo State House of Assembly & Anor (2018), the Ondo Division of the Court of Appeal held that the FOI Act was binding on states.
Commenting on the matter, Effiong said by virtue of Section 1 of the Tribunals of Inquiry Law of Lagos State, the panel of inquiry can only be created by an instrument; not by a press release or declaration in the media.
He said, “The inescapable implication is that except there is a legal instrument as required by law, we are wasting our time with the ongoing inquiry.
“The members of the panel, protesters and the public deserve clarification from the governor on this issue. This is a fundamental issue.
“It is also important for us to see the instrument under which the curfew was declared. Given the conflicting accounts by the state government, the military and other interested parties, it is essential for the instrument by which the curfew was imposed to be made public.
“The governor has refused to release the CCTV records to me. The issue here is not the conflicting decisions of the Court of Appeal.
“If the governor is, why has he refused to release these Instruments if they actually exist?”
Effiong stated that he will review this matter and take the appropriate action, adding that those who lost their lives and those whose properties were destroyed deserved justice.