8th June, 2011
A peaceful march by corps members to mourn the killing of their colleagues during the post election violence in the north has been aborted by leadership of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, and the Lagos State Government.
The corps members, numbering around 100 staged a march from Ikeja through the Obafemi Awolowo Way to the Lagos State Government secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, South West Nigeria and were on their way to the governor’s office when a man who claimed to be an official of NYSC stopped them from proceeding further.
A haggard-looking man who claimed to be the NYSC Inspectorate Officer, Ikeja Zone and refused to disclose his full identity confronted the corps members who had already gotten Governor Babatunde Fasholaâ€™s consent to march to his office.
He was seen making frantic calls and spoke in harshly to corps members and the pressmen covering the march, saying that he got an order from above to stop the march because the NYSC leadership was not informed of the protest.
He first confronted the corps members at Allen Junction but the mourners were undeterred and proceeded to the government secretariat where they were also seen by officials of the Ministry of Special Duties.
The NYSC official, who gave his first name as Charles threatened to destroy the video camera of a reporter from NN 25, a cable television station, who came to cover the event when she saw the corps members carrying placards.
As confusion ensued, with the corps members determined to continue with the peaceful march to the governorâ€™s office, a top government official, Mr. Joseph Abolude, Director, General Services, Special Duties joined NYSC official in putting a halt to the peaceful march.
According to him, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr. Aderemi Desalu was not happy with the peaceful march and had decided that the marchers should not be allowed to get to the Governorâ€™s office as the ministry was not informed about it.
After the corps members had been threatened, they became afraid and decided not to proceed to the Governorâ€™s Office but were disappointed that a peaceful march to mourn their slain colleagues was aborted.
The corps members, under the aegis of NYSC Concerned Youth Corps Members had written to Fashola through the Office of the Chief of Staff which was received by the office on 31 May, 2011 and duly stamped by the office.
The corps members showed the letter to the NYSC and the state government officials but were still prevented from proceeding further.
The placards carried by the corps members read: â€œRIP Ukeoma Ikechukwu Chibuzor,â€ â€œGoodluck Jonathan, fish out those responsible for the killing,â€ â€œNigeria is our Nigeria we serve,â€ among others.
Spokesperson of the corps members, Mr. Seun Onalaja said they were only mourning the killings of their colleagues in the north and that it was not a protest, adding that â€œwe want our colleagues to know that they did not die in vain.â€
He advised the Federal Government not to scrap the scheme but to restructure it to make it better than it had been, stressing that â€œwe want the Federal Government to put an end to the exploitation of corps members.
â€œThe Federal Government should look for the perpetrators of this dastardly act and bring them to book. The killers are still around walking free. They must be fished out. Government should ensure that such incident is not allowed to occur again.
ByÂ Kazeem Ugbodaga