In a rare moment after Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu’s mobile line surfaced online , the Channels Crew had a chance interview with the APC National leader on his views after the military invasion of Lekki Tollgate
Q. Going by what has been going on online , today has been regarded as Black Tuesday due to the fatality and causality caused by the shooting of protesters by the military at Lekki Tollgate. What’s your take?
I was shocked , I was amazed knowing full well I have the history of being an activist or better put a protester in the past. I appealed to the conscience of all Nigerians, all protesters as well and sided with them that what they were doing was right. That they have the right to free speech, freedom of association and freedom to complaints. I have done it before but they should please call off the protest. That’s the way I ended my press release to the media including the Channels TV.
Suddenly, tonight(Tuesday), I got a call that the Nigerian Army has attacked the protesters. I was shocked, so in the process of making all these enquiries I started picking numbers(calls). Usually, if I don’t have your name on my phone I don’t pick calls except through my PA. Imagine, you(caller/interviewer)are talking to me now on my personal line.
But when lives of people are involved in a democracy and you heard people are being attacked by the army or people in army unoform with live bullets. It’s extremely shocking and I’m ready to complain to the highest level.
Q.Going by the anguish tones of people that spoke with you earlier, beyond being shocked , what can you say to the Nigerian youths ?
It’s early hours in the morning(Wednesday), there is no way I can talk with the authority now. I tried to reach NSA(National Security Adviser), head of army. You don’t call the president at this hour. But there are other means to deal with this even irritating protest. Why use live bullets? I condemn the action in no supporting manner.
Q. On the allegation that you have a vested interest in the Lekki Tollgate as reason why you drove protesters away for loss of revenue.
I don’t own the business, its a public investment. It is owned by Lagos State government and the private owners I do not know. I am ready to face any inquiry. No, I have no dime in it, I have no kobo in it.
We are about 13/14 days to the protest now, and they called me. I was being accused and reported to the presidency that I was behind the protest. That, I was the sponsor of the protest.
Suddenly, I spoke day before yesterday that violence is against the tolerance of the protest and I appealed to the youths. I told the governor to find means, that is why he sets up the judicial commission of inquiry. The governor has gone into one of the victims’ home to appeal to them. He has set aside #200million as a fund for restitution.
I will never be a part of any carnage. The use of live ammunition is condemnable in totality.
Q.Did you covertly or overtly order the shooting or turned your eyes away on the shooting of the innocent citizens ?
I said no, capital no and several no. How can I be part of that remotely or otherwise? Its not possible. I’m an unapologetic protester. I have seen people killed during Abacha regime and I condemned it. I have gone to detention I condemned it and I have on an exile as a result of being recalcitrant that military must go.
So how on earth would have to, the protest one tolerated for 12/13days without incident. How can we become victims of our own exercise for peace? How can we shed blood , innocent blood to end a protest is not acceptable.
There are other means even if they refuse to leave the spot. You can use tear gas,rubber bullets, pepper spray not live ammunition.
Q. What can you say the government should do in this situation ?
My advice to the government is to fish out those who whoever gave the order and put them on trial.
I agree the government is slow, slow in fishing out those who are involved in the brutality that created the problem in the first instance.
I am expecting they would have arrested one or two of them and put them in orderly room trial. Whoever ordered the attack of tonight should be brought to book. It is only the COAS and the president who give the order. I don’t know the army regulations much but I don’t think a GOC could have done that. The president would have to address the situation.
Q. How do you assuage the youths with frayed nerves?
I sympathise with all concerned. I have not made any confirmation to the extent of casualty. I have not been able to confirm intact, I have been trying to reach the governor bit will continue to try. I doubt I will sleep till day break. I will probably switch it off(phone).
Its troubling,its excruciating. I thought I could talk reasonably to some people. But if I have been accused wrongly of plotting against this government three weeks ago. Then spoke in support of the protest and vouched for the government that they will change as reform. The reform is not going to be easy in the police or army.
Well, we the leaders have lost our sleep and also lost our peace of mind. We just have to live with it.
Q. Do you smell conspiracy?
Yes! i do, I do. I’m not even sure they are Nigerian Army. I’m not sure yet. You see all these ragtag uniforms all over the country. I’m not sure how the uniforms of army are controlled but that is not as critical as the lives and bloodshed that just occurred.
Q. Do you think the government has failed young people as demonstrated in the last few days?
I won’t pass that judgement now. OK, I would not. That’s why you heard that I was making all sorts of telephone calls to explain to people, to educate them, douse tension. That is my limit of power. Its not because of any other interest, there is a limitation here. I can’t command the army except control my own personal security guards.I cannot pass judgement on the president until I find our whether he gave the order or not.
A multimedia professional with about two decades experience in visual and text journalism.