12th January, 2012
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has expressed concern over the
rumoured plan by the federal government to send thugs to the hitherto
peaceful protests at the Gani Fawehinmi Park in Lagos and other parts
of the city to instigate violence as a
pretext for declaring a state of emergency in the state.
In a statement issued in Lagos by its National Publicity Secretary,
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party therefore warned
the government to desist from such a dastardly act and allow the
Nigerian people to continue their peaceful protests or,
in the alternative, revert to the old petrol price so the protests can end.
It said the federal government, having failed to use ethnicity,
religion and the massive infusion of dirty funds to divide organized
labour or frustrate the peaceful protests, may now want to try other
underhand tactics to instigate trouble so it can clamp
down on citizens whose only offence is that they dare to protest
against an insensitive and inhuman government policy.
ACN reminded the federal government that the freedom of assembly,
freedom of speech and the right to protest are all part of
democracy, hence no democratically-elected government can truncate
these rights and still hope to maintain its sovereignty.
”Since the fuel strike started, we have noted the increasingly
bellicose rhetoric emanating from the federal government.
We have reasons to believe the not-too-subtle threats are a precursor
to something sinister by a government that has pushed itself into a
which it is now looking for a face-saving way out.
”While we abhor violence as an instrument of protest – an ACN culture
that is well known – we must warn that issuing military-era
threats are not compatible with a democratic dispensation, and that no
amount of force on earth can suppress a determined people,”
The party noted that since the nation-wide strike started on Monday,
organized labour and civil society organisations
have conducted themselves in an impressively-peaceful manner, even
when they have been confronted by a few aggressive
and trigger-happy policemen.
”In particular, the civil society-anchored demonstrations at the Gani
Fawehinmi park in Lagos has set a new standard in how to stage
non-violent protests. Speakers after speakers have exhorted the
massive crowd that turn out at the park daily to abhor violence.
Leaders of both Christian and Muslim faiths have been brought to show
that sectarian violence cannot be used to divide the people.
Music has been used effectively as a means of dousing tension and
letting off steam.
”It is therefore clear that unless the federal government has a
hidden agenda, it should rather hail the organizers of the Lagos
instead of planning to infiltrate their ranks with thugs as it has
done in Abuja, where thugs were reportedly sent after peaceful
protesters, ” it said.