Photo: Adeniyi Suliman
Several civil rights group have vowed to challenge the decision of the Lagos State Government to replace the statue of late civil rights campaigner, Chief Gani Fawehinmi’s statue with that of a National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The statue was until it was demolished located at a park in Ojota area of the state and that the park had served as a convergent arena for Nigerians to protest against draconian policies of governments both at the state and Federal level.
In a statement issued on Friday, they (the various groups) lamented their frustration at securing official reactions in form of an official explanation from the state government on why it demolished the statue and what it planned to replace it with.
Reacting to the development in a statement it issued on Friday on behalf of all the protesting groups, the Convener of Save Lagos Group, Comrade Adeniyi A Sulaiman stated that information at his disposal suggests that the state government was planning to replace the statue with that of Tinubu.
Sulaiman stated that he has however mobilized several right groups across the country to protest, what he termed an attempt to erode and rubbish the legacy of the late human rights crusader by the Lagos State Government.
He listed those mobilized to include members of the following groups, the Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice (CHRSJ), African Masses Voices for Survival (AMVS), the Veteran Group for Operation Clean Crusade (VGOCC), The Conscience Mainstream (TCS), Gani Fawehinmi Memorial Foundation (GAFAMOG) and others.
According to Save Lagos Group, the symbolism of the park to civil rights activism is what the state government wishes to remove, saying the group will resist the plans with all the forces it can muster, adding that “the legacies of Chief Fawehinmi remains very precious to us and we will not let any force be it state or non-state obliterate from our collective memory.”
Sulaiman specifically accused the APC led government of perfidy, saying the tendencies that are within the party and the state government has in the past benefitted from the results of series of actions the late lawyer-turned activist waged when he was alive.
“It is on record that most of the people in government of Lagos State were direct beneficiary of the numerous civil rights activities in the past but have now turned against him in death because of the fact that they themselves have became like the people that we all fought against during the pro-longed military rule.”
Speaking on behalf of GAFAMOG, Comrade Afolabi Gbajumo (aka Self pikin) said, “I have personally visited the place and I was surprised and shocked that the statue has been taken away from where it is and I can tell you that I have since begun consultations with relevant authorities and bodies on how to legally fight this direct affront on our collective memory.”