17th January, 2012
Despite public outcry , soldiers still occupy major roads and highways in Lagos State, southwest Nigeria.
President Goodluck Jonathan had deployed hundreds of soldiers to the Lagos metropolis yesterday to quell protests against the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government in the state.
Despite the fact that the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, had called off the strike, the soldiers were still seen in some parts of the metropolis this morning, although, there was no road block as it was yesterday.
P.M.NEWS reports that soldiers were heavily present at Ojuelegba, Oshodi, Dopemu, Fadeyi, Agege and the whole stretch of Ikorodu Road.
At Ojota, where the suspended protest was most effective and well organised, soldiers were still occupying the area as at this morning but did not disturb people from going about their normal businesses.
When contacted, Army Public Relations Officer, Lagos State, Lieutenant-Colonel Kayode Ogunsanya, said: “Are you just seeing them on the road? Didn’t you watch the nationwide broadcast by the President yesterday? They will be here until normalcy returns.”
However, as we were going to press, there were reports that the soldiers were being withdrawn from the streets of Lagos.
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State had called on Jonathan to immediately withdraw the soldiers from the streets of Lagos as there was no development in the state that warranted such huge presence of military men.
Fashola in a state-wide broadcast yesterday, said: “For me this is not a matter for the military. The sooner we rethink and rescind this decision the better and stronger our democracy will be.”
The governor added that irrespective of the fact that many people gathered in several parts of Lagos like Falomo, Ikorodu and Ojota, among other places, “they had largely conducted themselves peacefully, singing and dancing while they expressed their displeasure at the way some decisions that affect them have been taken and this should not be a justification for sending our soldiers to a gathering of unarmed citizens.”
Also, the Coalition of Civil Society Organisation had yesterday condemned the deployment of soldiers in Lagos, saying it was uncalled for.
“We strongly condemn this deployment of soldiers and call for their immediate withdrawal from areas not declared to be under a state of emergency,” the coalition said in a statement.
A civil society group, Joint Action Forum, JAF, has condemned the take over of Lagos Streets by armed soldiers also.
Addressing journalists at the meeting of JAF in Lagos today, its General Secretary, Comrade Abiodun Aremu said its group cooperated with the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress, TUC with other civil society organisations to make the nationwide protest a success.
Aremu said labour and other rights groups were not consulted before petrol price was pegged at N97, adding “we shall continue the struggle in a different way now that the soldiers have taken over Lagos because the mandate the people gave us was to see petrol price reverted to N65.”
The meeting was attended by JAF Deputy Chairman, Comrade Achike Chude, Assistant Secretary Comrade Rasheedat Adesina, Mobilisation Officer, Comrade Peluola Adewale and Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, Chairman, Dr. Temiye Ademisan.
Also speaking at the meeting, Ademisan said the protesters were not out on the streets to call for a regime change.
Rather, he said their intention was to effect a change in the system and betterment of the Nigerian populace. He said the office of the First Lady was not in the constitution but was created by certain individuals for personal reasons.
“This and related matters formed the basis for the agitation of civil society groups,” Ademisan declared.
—Kazeem Ugbodaga & Dedeigbo Ayodeji