A BID by the National Action Coalition led by some eminent Nigerians to carry on the protests engendered by the recent increase in the pump price of petrol was thwarted yesterday by the Police who prevented the protesters from getting to the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park, Ojota, Lagos for a rally with a hail of tear gas.
Secretary, The June 12 Coalition, Nelson Ekujimi, collapsed in the pandemonium that trailed the police action but was later revived at the State General Hospital.
In a related development, the Lagos Police Command has turned down an official request by the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) to hold a rally tomorrow in Lagos.
In a letter addressed to the Command, the group had asked the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Yakubu Alkali, to grant it permission to protest at the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park under a security arrangement that should be set up by the police.
But Alkali turned down the request, citing security reasons.
Leading yesterday’s protest were Dr. Tunji Braithwaite, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu, Sheik Abduramah Amad, Dr. Tunji Abayomi, Nike Ransome-Kuti, Funmi Iyanda, Mr. Wale Okunniyi, Yemi Adamolekun, Kola Oyeneyin, Prof. Tony Kila, Mr. Wale Ogunade and Dr. Wale Balogun.
Again, the Defence Headquarters yesterday rose in defence of the deployment of troops in Lagos, saying that all military personnel that are part of last Sunday night’s deployment were members of the Lagos State sponsored Operation MESA and not an Army of occupation as alleged by critics.
Director of Defence Information, Col. Mohammed Yerima, told journalists in Abuja that the deployment was part of the military’s commitment to “the defence and protection of our country’s hard earned democratic credential.”
According to Yerima, “the attention of the Defence Headquarters has been drawn to the unsubstantiated claims by a section of the public alleging that the Federal Government ordered the deployment of troops in Lagos to halt the protest against the petrol subsidy removal. While the Defence Headquarters do not wish to join issues with any individual or groups regarding the matter, we wish to state categorically, in the interest of the larger society, that there is no element of truth in those claims.
Meanwhile, the SNG has dissociated itself from plans by some groups of people to occupy the tollgate on the Admiralty Circle of Lekki-Epe Expressway tomorrow.
At a media briefing in Lagos yesterday, the group’s spokesperson, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, said: “We have information to the effect that some people are using the name of SNG to occupy the toll gate on the Admiralty Circle of Lekki-Epe Expressway on Saturday, while the only action the SNG has on Saturday is the ‘victory rally’ at Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park.”
Reacting to the disruption of the National Action Coalition rally, Odumakin said: “Intimidation cannot stop us. The more they do this, the more they show the international community that we do not have democracy in Nigeria.”
The protesters started off with a rally at the Lagos State House of Assembly where they were met by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Kolade Taiwo, who also condemned the deployment of troops across strategic locations in Lagos.
Taiwo added: “There is nothing wrong in protesting against bad governmental policies so far it is peacefully done. We are pledging our support for this struggle.”
But when the protesters made for the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park, they were confronted by the Police at the 7Up area, with the security agents using tear gas to break up the procession.
The coalition has since condemned “the unprovoked disruption” as “undemocratic and uncivilised.”
But the Lagos Police Spokesman, Samuel Jinadu, said the Command had to break up yesterday’s protest as such gathering has been banned in the country after the strike was called off.
According to him, “they were not supposed to carry out any protest. They did not apply to us to carry out any protest, so they are not allowed to do so. We have to stop them because they were breaking the law.”
At the rally, Braithwaite, said: “The removal of the fuel subsidy issue is not yet settled because there are different constitutional deformities bedeviling the nation. We need to face this crucial issue once and for all because foreign economic exploiters are already using this as an avenue to rob the country.”
Condemning the Army’s deployment in Lagos, Braithwaite argued that the military belonged to the people, hence they should not be used as a tool of oppression against the people.
He stressed that “there is no religious or cultural divide in the country, but on the contrary, the opportunistic politicians use this to exploit the masses and because of this, the soldiers must leave our streets today.”
Braithwaite said the coalition would not be intimidated by soldiers’ presence on the streets, stressing that “we will not stop at pressing for our rights.”
Similarly, Nwabueze said: “The rally is a historic one because this is the beginning of a revolution to come. What we are doing is not to break up this country but to build a new Nigeria. There is corruption in every aspect of administration in this country and we cannot continue like this.”
Nwabueze disclosed that plans were already at advanced stage to put out a series of five papers to call for a SNC.
The papers, according to him, would soon be delivered to the National Assembly and the President, who will be given a time line to organise it.
Nwabueze alleged that the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) had compromised the people’s hope by calling off the strike it called over petrol subsidy removal.
Kalu, a former Minister of Finance, said: “The major aim of this gathering is to press for a new constitution. Governance is about people and what we are trying to do is to ensure the freedom of everybody. Nobody is here to riot or disrupt the public peace. We will march to Abuja asking them to convene a national conference and if they fail to comply, we will do it by ourselves.”
Rights activist, Abayomi said: “It is obvious that the government does not understand the seriousness of the people’s agitation and struggle.”
The commonwealth belongs to the people and nobody has the right to stop them from protesting against bad governmental policies. We are being ruled by corrupt and pitiless leaders.”
Man United and Arsenal Go Head To Head In The Premier League on DStv
It’s another big weekend for Manchester United as they face Arsenal in the English Premier League on Sunday November 1, 2020.
Still battling with a wobbly start to the new season, the Red Devils will be looking forward to ending their home games woes as they face the Gunners at the Old Trafford in the Super Sunday match.
United head into the match under intense pressure to regain fans’ confidence and get its Premier League campaign on track after an unimpressive home run. They have won their last 10 away games in all competitions but none of their last five at home.
It is United’s worst start to a season at Old Trafford in the last 48 years.
The once dreaded Old Trafford where opponents visit with their hearts in their mouths is fast becoming a common ground after United suffered 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace, 6-1 to Tottenham and refused to score a goal against the Blues last weekend. It is left to be seen whether Arsenal will come close to repeating the 6-1 plummeting of United by its North London rivals.
Despite losing 1-0 to Leicester City on Monday night, the Gunners boss, Mikel Arteta, will be boosted by the fact that his side has a head to head advantage over United in their last three encounters.
The head to head record appears to favour Arsenal having won two and drawn one of the duo's last three league meetings while United’s last win against Arsenal was in the FA Cup in 2019.
Arsenal presently at 10th place on nine points travel to Old Trafford on Sunday without Gabriel Martinelli, Pablo Mari, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers have all been ruled out with injury. David Luiz who picked up a muscular injury against Leicester is also unsure for the game yet.
United with seven points sits at 15th place will also be without Anthony Martial still serving his domestic suspension, while Eric Bailly, Jesse Lingard and Phil Jones are all ruled out with injury.
While we look forward to the epic battle at Old Trafford this weekend live on DStv, we cannot lose sight of matches from the 18 other Premier League clubs that will all be in action this weekend. The games will also be live on
SuperSport Premier League for all DStv customers.
Kwara Governor, Abdulrazaq Declares 24-hour Curfew
Following the outbreak of violence in some quarters of the State, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara State has declared a 24-hour Curfew on the state starting on Saturday.
Governor Abdulrazaq made this known in a statewide broadcast on Friday night.
Recall that on Friday some residents of Ilorin, the Kwara State capital stormed the warehouses where the government stored COVID-19 palliatives expected to be distributed to citizens.
Also Read: BREAKING: Lagos Government Relaxes Curfew
The warehouses, located at the cargo warehouse of the International airport in Ilorin as well as the agro-mall located in the Sango area of the state were totally ransacked as residents struggled to pack as much food items as they could.
Abdulrazaq said, “Lives are being threatened. Businesses are being looted. Public properties have been targeted. This is unacceptable. It is not who we are.
“To curb these acts of criminalities, I hereby declare a 24-hour curfew in Ilorin metropolis from midnight today October 23rd, 2020. This is in line with Sections 1, 2, and 4 of the Public Order Act Chapter 382 Laws of Federation of Nigeria 2004.
“People are urged to stay indoors in compliance with this curfew. This will be reviewed as we watch developments.
“Our observation is that what has happened today is not a protest, it cannot be defended under any guide, it was a pure act of criminality as some people are hiding under the guise of nationwide protest.”
Lagos Policemen Brutalise PUNCH Journalists For Covering #EndSARS Protest
Two PUNCH journalists, Femi Dawodu and Segun Odunayo, were on Wednesday brutalised by policemen guarding the Lagos State House of Assembly in Ikeja.
The duo had gone to cover events around the Alausa area, a major demonstration ground of the #EndSARS protesters calling for a total overhaul of the Nigeria Police Force.
According to the PUNCH, both Odunayo and Dawodu were recording a live video of activities in the area when the policemen accosted them and ordered them to stop the recording.
After showing the policemen their identity cards, indicating that they are journalists covering #EndSARS protests and monitoring compliance with the government-imposed curfew, the policemen became annoyed and pounced on them.
Odunayo said the policemen tortured them for four hours, adding that they stripped them of their clothes, laid them on the floor, beat them with a stick and guns, and took a video recording of them while torturing them at the Lagos State House of Assembly.
Odunayo said, “Femi and I were at the Secretariat in Alausa around 7 am and were doing a live video of the activities going on in the area. We were heading back to the expressway when a group of armed policemen accosted us at the Lagos State House of Assembly roundabout and immediately collected our phones. We showed them our ID cards, but they refused to let us go.
“What got the policemen annoyed was that we saw them using a stick and a rubber to beat a young man, and during the live video, they heard me saying that they were beating someone. So, after they arrested us, they tortured us and demanded that we should do another live video denying the statement, but we refused.
“Each Time we refused, they slapped us, used a stick to beat us, used the butt of their guns to hit our heads and bodies after stripping us of our clothes. All they wanted was for us to do another live broadcast to claim that we lied and we didn’t because we told the truth.”
Dawodu said it took the intervention of the state Police Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi before they were released at the Alausa Police Station, adding that before their release, the policemen took their details, including their addresses, took a video record of them and threatened to go after them if any negative report was published about what happened.
He said, “The policemen were transferring the aggression of what is happening regarding the #EndSARS protest on us. They later took us to the Divisional Police Station in Alausa, and if not for the DPO, the policemen guarding the LSHA that arrested us would have done more grievous things to us.
“The PPRO and the DPO later spoke with them, and we were released.
“But despite his intervention, we were told to write statements. They collected our details, address, took video recordings of us making false statements during the torture, and threatened to use it to blackmail and go after us if we end up doing any bad report against them.”
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