The protesters led by industrialist Dr. Ausbeth Ajagu, chairman of Lekki Phase 1 Residents Association, Mr. Wole Akala, lawyer and activist, Mr. Ebun-olu Adegboruwa, retired judges, retired military men, engineers, community leaders, women leaders and youths trooped out in their hundreds to occupy the Lekki Toll Plaza, to protest the imposition of Lekki Toll Fee billed to commence the same day.
The protesters had gathered at Lekki Phase 1 roundabout to commence the peaceful protest as early as 8 a.m., brandishing placards and distributing banners and leaflets and handbills to sensitise the neighbourghood.
They also carried food and mattresses as a sign of their readiness for a long struggle.
One person was feared killed while several others, including a popular Nollywood actress, Kate Henshaw-Nuttal and some journalists, were brutally beaten up when heavily armed policemen and political thugs descended on the protesters.
Some journalists who went to cover the event were chased away by law officials and thugs who manhandled them seized and damaged their cameras.
Among those affected were media men from the Nigerian Television Authority, Silverbird Television and Channels Television.
According to a witness who resides in the area, the protesters got to the Admiralty Circle Plaza at about 9 a.m., maintaining a very long distance from the toll plaza, and were being addressed by their leaders when about 15 Hilux vehicles and two Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) drove in at great speed.
'They were discharged heavily armed thugs and political supporters, who rushed at the defenceless protesters, beating and harassing the protesters.
'While this was going on, one Chief Superintendent of Police, Mr. Odumosu, the coordinator of Rapid Response Squad, the anti-crime outfit of the Lagos State Government, ordered the armed policemen to disperse the protesters,' the witness said.
He added: 'One person was already hit by the bullet, and he lay down lifeless in his own blood. We don't know his fate till date, as the police did not allow us to offer him any medical aid.
'The protesters then retreated into the Lekki Phase 1 estate, away from the express road. Some minutes later, Mr. Odumosu led the policemen to bombard the Lekki phase 1 estate and the armed policemen actually entered the estate, chasing the residents into their houses.
'Some journalists and I were chased to a stream inside the estate until we were able to take cover in a nearby bush.
'Journalists were mercilessly beaten up, their cameras seized and damaged, such as STV, NTA, Channels television and one Kate Henshaw-Nuttal was beaten up and manhandled,' he said.
Another resident who spoke with The Moment On Sunday alleged that several people were arrested by the police and detained at Panti SCID, Yaba, Lagos, without access to their lawyers, families and other friends.
They include chairman of Lekki Phase 1 Residents Association, Mr. Wole Akala; chairman of Northern Foreshore Estate, Lekki, Mr Uche Nwaze; a community leader in Lekki Phase 1 who is just recovering from a stroke; the chairman of Lekki Phase 1 South Community, Mrs. Tolani Animashaun, the Peoples Democratic Party candidate for the House of Representatives during the April 2011 elections; Engr. Kunle Ogunkoya; 15 other community leaders; women and youths, as well as the cameraman of AFP/Reuters News Agency.
One of the leading protesters, radical lawyer Mr. Ebun Olu Adegboruwa, condemned the action of the Lagos State Government, which was accused of allowing the peaceful protest to degenerate into violence.
'We condemn this brutal and wicked attack by the Lagos State Government and Lekki Concession Company on innocent defenseless citizens. It is barbaric and amounts to an act of state terrorism to unleash armed policemen on defenseless and innocent citizens,' Adegboruwa said.
'The Constitution of Nigeria guarantees the freedom of expression. The residents secured the permit of the Lagos State police command and that of the DPO of Maroko Police Station who all approved the protest,' he added.
According to Adegboruwa, 'It is most inhuman for a government led by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, to order such brutal crackdown on its citizens.
'The case of the tollgate fee is in the Court of Appeal. One expects the government to follow the due process of law in dealing with this matter. Right now, leaders of the residents have gone into hiding, with policemen all over the various estates to arrest and detain their leaders.
'We demand the immediate resignation of Governor Babatunde Fashola, as he has lost the moral right to continue to lead the people and residents of Lagos State. The lawlessness displayed and unleashed on the people today cannot be justified in any democratic society.
'We also demand at the immediate and unconditional release of all those who have been arrested illegally. We demand the outright cancellation of the Lekki Toll Fee and the opening up of all fenced portions of the road. Together we shall win.'
In a swift response, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Aderemi Ibirogba, said the police had to step in to restore law and order when thugs hijacked the peaceful protest.
According to a statement signed by the Special Adviser to Governor Babatunde Fashola on Media, Hakeem Bello, the commissioner said that reports reaching the state government indicated that the law enforcement agents had to step in to prevent a breakdown of law and order when alleged thugs arrived the scene and fighting broke out.
While expressing regret that some journalists and media organisations were affected by the fracas, the commissioner confirmed some arrests, which include 'a top Peoples Democratic Party candidate who contested and lost during the last general elections, a development which showed that the protest itself was politically motivated.'
Mr. Ibirogba cautioned against the politicization of every issue including developmental issues with clear implications for the welfare of the people and the image of the country as a whole.
He said broad-based consultations had been carried out and several conditions set by the people in the Lekki axis including the provision of alternative routes and provision of high capacity buses had been met before an earlier suspension on tolling was lifted.
'The state government,' Mr. Ibirogba said, 'would probe deep into the issue and prosecute masterminds of the reported violence during the protest,' the statement said.
It stressed that the state government restated its commitment to maintenance of law and order in the state.