Govt probes marketers over alleged protest funding
NLC, TUC ask citizens to stockpile foodstuff
Police absolve selves of Kwara killing
ORGANISED Labour yesterday picked up the gauntlet inevitably thrown before it by the Federal Government with the new year day removal of subsidy on petrol by calling for a general strike beginning from Monday, January 9, 2012.
In a two-page joint communique by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), the two central labour unions said only a recapitulation on the part of the government by way of a reversal of the policy before midnight of Sunday, January 8, 2012 could stop the strike.
The communique was signed by President, TUC, Peter Esele and his NLC counterpart, Abdulwahed Omar yesterday in Abuja.
Stressing that all offices, airports, seaports, markets and banks would be shut down for the strike, Labour charged Nigerians to stockpile foodstuff in their homes.
The communique read in part: “After exhaustive deliberations and consultations with all sections of the populace, the NLC, TUC and their pro-people allies demand that the Presidency immediately reverse fuel prices to N65.
“If the government fails to do so, they direct that indefinite general strikes, mass rallies and street protests be held across the country with effect from Monday, January 9th, 2012. From that Monday, January 9th, 2012 date, all offices, oil production centres, air and seaports, fuel stations, markets, banks, amongst others will be shut down. We advise Nigerians to stockpile basic needs especially food and water.
“We call on all Nigerians to participate actively in this movement to rescue our country. The emphasis is on peaceful protests, rallies and strikes while refusing to be intimidated.
“Labour calls on police, armed forces and other security agencies to reject orders that they turn their weapons on fellow Nigerians. We warn that anybody who does so will be individually brought to justice.”
But as the labour unions get set for the general strike, security agencies yesterday initiated a probe of six marketers for allegedly bankrolling the proposed nationwide protest.
Also, there were indications yesterday that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have been placed on the alert over curious withdrawals meant to support the mass unrest.
According to findings by security agencies, the concerned marketers were alleged “to be working in concert with some trade union leaders to make the country ungovernable.”
It was gathered that the marketers have budgeted over N1 billion to frustrate the withdrawal of petrol subsidy.
It was also learnt that the security agencies uncovered a secret meeting between the marketers and some senators and members of the House of Representatives on how to compromise the National Assembly to reject the withdrawal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government.
However, Deputy Governor with CBN, Mr. Tunde Lemo, said: “If anybody is concocting huge withdrawals to finance a national strike, it will fail. I think we should all rally round the government to allow this deregulation to succeed. There will be initial pains but Nigerians will enjoy the benefits.”
Meanwhile, the Kwara State Police Command yesterday denied that a protester, Mr. Mustapha Opobiyi, was shot dead on Tuesday in the course of the subsidy protest in Ilorin.
Besides, the Command confirmed the arrest of eight persons over the protest.
At a media briefing yesterday, the state Police Commissioner, Peter Gana, claimed that his men used minimal force to dislodge the protesters and that the Police only picked the remains of the deceased on getting to the scene to clear the bonfires lit by the rioters.
Gana denied reports of “the death of two or three persons” in Tuesday’s riot and alleged that hoodlums had taken over the protests in Ilorin, which nevertheless continued yesterday as protesters used bonfires to cordon off Maraba Junction and Murtala Muhammed Way, as early as 9.00a.m.
However, the Police later put out the fire and opened up the highways to trapped motorists.
The protests against the deregulation also continued yesterday in some states of the federation. In Kano, hundreds of protesters yesterday sought divine intervention over the petrol price hike.
Converging at the strategic Silver Jubilee intersection in the city, the protesters offered two raka’at prayers to Allah to touch the heart of President Goodluck Jonathan, with a view to making government reverse petrol price to N65.
The protesters, who were mainly drawn from various tertiary institutions in Kano, blocked the roundabout that links commuters and a section of the residents to the city centre and those coming from the Zaria Road end of the city.
In spite of the armoured tanks and truck loads of armed policemen officers, supported by state owned vigilance groups, and other security agencies, the protesters shouting on top of their voices, poured invectives on the Federal Government.
Also, market women, artisans, students and unemployed youths yesterday marched through streets of Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital to protest the fuel price increase.
After marching through some major streets with placards condemning the government’s action, they assembled at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Press Centre, Oke-Ilewo where their spokesman, Mr. Akinbode Olaniyi spoke with reporters.
Olaniyi urged the South-West governors to unanimously condemn the pump increase “else they will be seen as a bunch of disappointment and unprogressive lots, masquerading as lovers of the masses.”
Similarly, several youths yesterday took to the streets of Oke-Igbo, an agrarian community located in the cocoa belt of Ondo State, protesting the removal of petrol subsidy.
The youths barricaded the town’s main road and disrupted social and commercial activities in the sleepy community for about three hours.
Also, hundreds of Zamfara State students yesterday held a rally against the removal of the premium motor spirit otherwise known as petrol subsidy.
The students, who converged at the Zamfara State College of Arts and Science, Gusau, later move to the Government House, where they were prevented from gaining entrance by police who used tear gas to disrupt the protesters.
The state Police Commissioner, Tambari Yabo, confirmed the arrest of six suspected organisers of the protests under the aegis of National Association of Zamfara State Students (NAZAMSSA).
On the alleged plans marketers to fund Monday’s protests, a reliable security source who pleaded anonymity, said: “We are probing some marketers for taking undue advantage of issues raised by Labour to cause mayhem nationwide. Security agencies have identified six of the marketers, who are the arrowheads of this covert plot to bring down the government.
“These marketers have voted over N1 billion to hijack the Labour strike to make the nation ungovernable. Some of these marketers will soon be invited for questioning. And whoever is involved might be tried accordingly.
“These marketers are unhappy because the removal of subsidy will put an end to cooking of records to get refund from government and diversion of subsidised imported fuel products to neighbouring African countries where they make triple profits. They are also angry that it will no longer be business as usual. They are some of the beneficiaries of fuel subsidy.
“Unfortunately, they have made Labour leaders to believe that they are backing Nigerian workers for a just cause.”
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.”
CCTV At Lekki Toll Gate Was Not Removed -Lekki Concession Company Says
Lekki Concession Company in their press release has debunked the rumour that the Lekki Toll Gate CCTV camera was not removed.
According to the press release by the company which condemns the unlawful killings of the peaceful protesters said no one gave the order for the removal of the Closed Circuit Television System as the CCTV is still intact as of the time of this report.
Speaking further, the concession company revealed that if the CCTV was to be removed, it would require the use of machinery to reach the heights that they have been installed.
Read the release report below;
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