All appears not to be well with the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos as his government continues to score low in terms of public perception following the poor handling of certain issues in the state in recent times.
Since taking over office in 2019 from Akinwunmi Ambode, former governor of Lagos, Sanwo-Olu and his government had struggled to carve out a glittering image in the public space, moving from one embarrassment to another over this period.
The latest episode of this uninspiring trend came last Wednesday following the issuance of a controversial legal advice to the police in Lagos by the Director, Directorate of Public Prosecutions, Ms Adetutu Oshinusi, which exonerated five students and officials of Dowen College, Lekki, suspected to be linked to the death of a student, Sylvester Oromoni.
Oromoni died on November 30, 2021 following ill-health said to have been caused by bullying by senior students.
The 12-year-old boy’s father had claimed that his child was beaten and forced to drink a chemical that eventually claimed his life.
But management of Dowen College had dismissed the claim, alleging that the boy sustained injuries while playing football with colleagues.
The position of the school attracted stiff criticisms from Nigerians and forced the police to arrest the five students and officials while it carried out an investigation into the matter.
The Lagos Government also announced the indefinite closure of the school pending the outcome of the findings.
However, the release of the students and staff of Dowen College following Oshinusi’s legal advice further escalated issues on Wednesday as Nigerians not only condemned the exoneration of the 10 persons but also accused the Lagos Government of trying to sweep the matter under the carpet in a bid to protect the influential cronies.
Top sources within the state government confirmed to SaharaReporters that the development not only caused Governor Sanwo-Olu’s administration great embarrassment but further dented its perception in the eyes of the public.
In response, the state government immediately moved Oshinusi out of the Ministry of Justice as Director of the DPP to Directorate of Citizens Rights.
A former Head, Office of the Public Defender, Dr Babajide Martins, was named as an immediate replacement for that position.
To further exorcise the ghost of that move considered as a huge blunder by the state government, Oshinusi was not mentioned as the outgoing DPP in a memo by the administration.
Instead, a former occupant of the role, who had since been made a judge of the Lagos High Court, Adenrera Olayinka Adeyemi, was named as Martins’ predecessor as DPP director.
The state government, SaharaReporters further gathered, was doing everything possible to distance Sanwo-Olu’s administration from the controversial legal advice in order to improve the public image of the government.
“Her (Oshinusi) role was so despicable that the government had to deny that she was never the Director, Directorate of Public Prosecutions.
“If you check the memo signed by Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary of the state, Ms Titilayo Shitta-Bey, one Adenrera Olayinka Adeyemi, who is now a judge of the High Court of Lagos State, was named as the DPP.
“She (Oshinusi) was quickly redeployed to the Directorate of Citizens Rights after the report.
“The entire development greatly embarrassed the Lagos State Government and that was why they reacted quickly and are looking for every means to distance the administration from the legal advice from Oshinusi,” a source told SaharaReporters.
It was further gathered that the sanctioning of a coroner’s inquest into Oromoni’s death as demanded by lawyer to the victim’s family, Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, was part of moves by the Lagos Government to correct the ‘error’ by Oshinusi and appear non-partisan in the entire saga.
Indeed, the latest embarrassment for Sanwo-Olu’s administration comes a little over a year after his government faced heavy backlash for deploying soldiers from Bonny Camp in Lagos to massacre young Nigerians demanding an end to police brutality and improved governance in the country at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020.
Brig. Gen. Ahmed Ibrahim Taiwo of 81 Division Intelligence Brigade while appearing before the Lagos Judicial Panel in November 2020 alleged that Sanwo-Olu called on the military for support that fateful day after the #EndSARS crisis degenerated into chaos.
Testifying before the panel, General Taiwo had said, “On October 20, 2020, Lagos State descended into anarchy.
“Sanwo-Olu asked the army to intervene and that was the correct thing to do since the police had been overrun.”
More than 10 persons were killed while scores more remain unaccounted for following the attack on the peaceful protesters by the soldiers.
Sanwo-Olu and his government denied any involvement in the massacre till date despite the testimony of the military.
One year after that mass killing, Governor Sanwo-Olu in a desperate bid to repair his government’s public image called for a ‘peace walk’ in commemoration of the Lekki incident.
The Lagos governor had invited some prominent young entertainers and activists including musician Folarin ‘Falz’ Falana, comedian Debo Adebayo widely known as Mr Marcaroni, another musician Seun Kuti, among others to join him on the walk.
But the invited youth all turned down the request by Sanwo-Olu, forcing him to cancel the planned ‘peace walk’.
The Lagos governor and his administration further suffered embarrassment last week when the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, and Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, deployed a team of policemen from Abuja to lay siege to the disputed Magodo Phase 2 Estate in Lagos without consulting with him.
Residents had prevented entry into the estate after some persons in company with policemen tried to enforce a Supreme Court judgment giving them authorisation over the land the estate now sits on.
The situation had generated much controversy that residents staged a protest in front of the estate to draw government’s attention to the situation.
Visiting the estate to intervene in the crisis and dismiss the policemen from Abuja from the area, Governor Sanwo-Olu and his officials were ‘splashed with mud’ in the face when leader of the police team, Abimbola Oyewole, a Chief Superintendent of Police, refused to obey his order to leave the place.
After attempting several times to have Oyewole and his men disengage and leave the area, the Lagos governor left the scene in disappointment.
Inside sources told SaharaReporters that the Lagos governor was greatly worried that these embarrassing incidents could further dent his chances of returning to office for a second term.
“His administration is suffering serious image crisis at the moment and there is concern that this could affect his chances of returning for a second term in office.
“Already, many Lagos residents have a poor perception of his administration, they think he is not sensitive to the plight of ordinary people, this could work against him.
“That is why his government is avoiding any type of scandal. This explains why the legal advice by the DPP angered the administration a lot,” the source added.
SaharaReporters, New York