NLC calls for nationwide protests today against country’s economic woes

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Anti-riot units of the Nigeria Police Force have been stationed in key areas in advance of the nationwide protest against the country’s economic hardship that the Nigeria Labour Congress has called for today.

Police officers were put on red alert, according to a statement made by the force spokesman on Monday, Olumuyiwa Adejobi.

The Trade Union Congress and 65 civil society organizations rejected the demonstration, and the President and law enforcement officials had advised the NLC not to proceed with it on Sunday.

NLC President Joe Ajaero, however, emphasized that the protest would proceed as scheduled, basing his choice on the nation’s economic circumstances and adversity.

 

Following the termination of the fuel subsidy on October 2, 2023, the NLC is criticizing the government’s purported inability to carry out agreements struck between the two sides.

The decision came at the end of a 14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to take action against the nation’s pervasive misery.

But according to Adejobi’s allegation, state commissioners of police were ordered to safeguard the demonstrators by Inspector-General of Police Kayode Egbetokun.

He reaffirmed that the police would do everything in their power to defend citizens’ rights and their ability to demonstrate.

While acknowledging the significance of the demonstration, Adejobi stated in the statement that the police would not tolerate a breakdown of law and order and that they would be on the lookout for any attempts to subvert the protests. The police would also put an end to any attempts to incite disorder.

“While acknowledging the value of nonviolent protest, the Nigeria Police Force is alert to any attempts by individuals or groups of individuals with malicious intentions to exploit such protests,” he said.

In the case that any unlawful activity or violent act threatens peace, public safety, or security, the force is, without a doubt, fully equipped to respond with speed and decisiveness.

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It is crucial to note that the police have extended their reach throughout the entire nation to thwart any attempts by certain individuals to use the protests to stir up controversy. Such attempts will be met with authorized, proportionate, and legal force because the police will not tolerate the wanton breakdown of law and order, the loss of life and property, as we have occasionally seen in the past in certain regions of the nation, according to Adejobi.

“The Nigeria Police Force, in response to the Nigeria Labour Congress’s proposed nationwide protest, hereby affirms the fundamental right of all citizens of the country to engage in peaceful protest in accordance with existing laws,” the statement said in part.

Thus, the NPF reaffirms its dedication to guaranteeing the protection of protestors’ freedom and rights.

The Nigeria Police Force has sent out personnel around the country and put them on high alert to keep an eye on the scheduled protest in accordance with its legal obligation to uphold law and order.

“All police commissioners and their corresponding supervising officers have received training and instructions to organize the local law enforcement to guarantee the safety and security of every attendee in the event that the protests proceed as scheduled.

The police commands of Benue, Niger State, and Delta have met with labor leaders to plan a smooth protest in order to guarantee a peaceful gathering.

In accordance with the Inspector General’s instruction, Delta State Police Commissioner Abaniwonda Olufemi has ordered a major deployment of officers around the state to guarantee proper security and safety during the demonstration.

The CP issued a warning to any planned protestors, stating that “anyone found wanting will be immediately arrested and prosecuted in accordance with the law,” according to a statement released on Monday by the state’s Police Public Relations Officer, Bright Edafe.

In a statement, it was stated that the CP instructed area commanders, tactical commanders, and divisional police officers to take action to prevent a breakdown in law and order.

The text said, “On February 22, 2024, the CP held stakeholder meetings with the leaders of the NLC, TUC, and IPMAN to explore strategies for ensuring a seamless protest. The discussions focused on how to create a peaceful protest.

While reiterating that residents have the right to peaceful demonstrate, the CP said that police must take the lead in ensuring the safety of protestors as well as the preservation of life and property. Protesting violently is forbidden and will not be accepted.

The State Intelligence Department was instructed by the CP to send out undercover agents to gather information and report it back.

Further manpower has been pulled from a variety of tactical teams, according to Edafe. These teams include the Department of Operations, area commands and divisions; the Safer Highway, Dragon Patrol, Safe Delta; Raiders Unit; Rapid Response Squad; Special Anti-Kidnapping and Cyber Crime Squad; CD-Decoy; CP Monitoring Unit; State Anti-Cult Unit; Crack Squad; X-Squad; and more.

Similar to this, on Monday, the Department of State Services and the Niger State police command met separately with the labor leaders’ leadership over the protest.

Shawulu Danmamman, the state commissioner of police, emphasized the importance of a nonviolent protest during the meeting that took place at the police headquarters.

Idrees Lafene, the state NLC Chairman, acknowledged the parleys and stated that the DSS had warned the labor leaders not to go on strike, threatening to hold them accountable for any security lapses that occurred during the demonstration.

The police have stepped up security and sent out tactical units throughout the state, according to a statement from the command’s spokesperson, Wasiu Abiodun.

Additionally, he disclosed that government buildings, banks, police stations, and other public properties, as well as key infrastructure, now have more robust protection.

Abiodun informed organized labor that “protesters must ensure that all processions are conducted within the ambit of the law, even though they have the right to peaceful protest, which the police must protect.”

He said that the demonstrators could not infringe upon the rights of others while expressing their own.

Since the police will be present to provide security and apprehend any individual or group attempting to exploit this avenue to disturb the public peace, they must behave in a highly polite manner and refrain from acting in an unruly manner.

In addition, Abiodun asked parents and guardians to caution their children against using violence while protesting.

The Bayelsa State Police announced in a related development that they would guard public property during the event and make sure that it wasn’t taken over by thugs.

The command’s spokeswoman, Musa Mohammed, released a statement on Monday headed “CP deploys police personnel and assets across the state,” in which the Commissioner of Police, Alonyenu Idu, stated that he had issued an order for the widespread deployment of police assets throughout the state.

The purpose of the deployment is to prevent thugs from taking over the protest. The CP gave the area commanders, tactical commanders, and divisional police officers instructions on how to put precautions in place to prevent any collapse of law and order.

“The CP held a stakeholder meeting with the leaders of NLC and TUC on February 26, 2024, to discuss measures to achieve a peaceful protest, as part of the measures to ensure that the protest is hitch-free,” the statement read.

According to Idu, citizens have the right to peaceful protest, and police must safeguard people’s lives and property “by regulation and social harmony.”

He issued a warning: “Anyone attempting to convert the demonstration from a peaceful demonstration into violence will be put under arrest and charged with a crime.”

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With the state’s law enforcement apparatus in place to ensure social peace and stability, the police commissioner gave every citizen the assurance that they may carry out their legal responsibilities without fear of intimidation or harassment.

Ejire-Adeyemi Adetoun, the public relations officer for the Kwara State Police, also discussed the planned demonstration and revealed that the command will mobilize men and policemen to ensure a nonviolent gathering.

Labor leaders met with the police and DSS on Monday, according to Terungwa Igbe, the chairman of the Benue State NLC, who also revealed their intentions for today’s protest.

“We are currently in the police headquarters,” said Makurdi. We are here because they invited us, and we accept their invitation. We just wrapped up with DSS and are currently at police headquarters,” he stated, refusing to provide the details of the discussions.

The Ogun, Plateau, and Sokoto NLC chapters stated they had organized their members for the rally, which will go place as scheduled, in an effort to guarantee a sizable turnout.

Hammed Ademola-Benco, the NLC’s Ogun State Chairman, declared that the union would proceed with the scheduled demonstration.

He claimed that the workers would remain at their respective job posts and that the 40 affiliate leadership was the only group that would be attending the event.

He declared, “The purpose of the protest march is to further bring the government’s attention to the problems of hunger, insecurity, and the nation’s ongoing growth in poverty.

“We have already mailed our letters to the union’s forty affiliates, encouraging them to participate in the parade. There is no strike going on; employees will continue to report to work.

“Police coverage for the event has been guaranteed to us. We are in excellent standing by God’s unique grace since we don’t have any issues with the security agencies and our governor is very understanding.

Asserting that its members were excited to take to the streets, the NLC in Plateau State also declared that it was prepared for the demonstration.

The labor leaders in the state met with the police authorities on Monday, according to information revealed by Eugene Mangji, the state chairman of the congress.

“We have no issues here in Plateau with the upcoming demonstration because we intend to carry it out,” Mangji remarked. There is no police seal around our NLC secretariat.

According to its chairman, Abdullahi Jungle, the NLC chapter in Sokoto State is prepared to protest the nation’s economic circumstances as well.

Jungle stated that the union met with the security authorities to decide on the details of the demonstration, speaking via his secretary, Hamisu Hussain.

As you can see, we had just returned from meeting with the commissioner of police and the DSS to discuss our planned protest.

“With God’s special grace, we will begin the protests tomorrow (today) as we have discussed with them and they have agreed with us on the modalities,” he continued.

Just as NLC spokesperson Benjamin Hundeyin was brushing off rumors that the police had sealed the NLC secretariat, CP Adegoke Fayoade met with representatives of many security agencies in Lagos to plan ahead for the march.

The CP went to the NLC secretariat to address protestors and provide justification for the increased security in areas of Lagos on Monday, according to Hundeyin, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria.

Police officers carrying heavy weapons were spotted in Gani Fawehinmi Park, Ojota, and other areas of Lagos, presumably in preparation for the organized labor group’s impending protest.

The Trade Union Congress reiterated that it was not a part of the protest that the NLC had announced for today, less than twenty-four hours before to the demonstration.

According to a letter from the labor center dated February 19, the decision by both unions to demonstrate on February 27 and 28, as announced by the NLC, was not made jointly.

In response to inquiries over the scheduled demonstration, TUC President Festus Usifo stated, “When you agree jointly that is the way to go and along the line, you now decide that you are not doing it again,” during a news conference in Abuja on Monday.

“Comrades, is there any place where we can come together and find agreement? You always notice us speaking to you as a group when we are working together. Were there any TUC members present on that specific day?“

Additionally, in an effort to lessen the impact of the nation’s misery, the congress encouraged the federal government to order food imports.

The president went on to say, “National pride in working toward local food sufficiency should be temporarily relaxed.”

“Nigerians must live to see tomorrow before we can understand how beautiful a government policy is,” the advisor said.

“All levels of government should right now buy enough food in various quantities from around the globe and distribute it to Nigerians who are in need.

Currently, food imports from overseas will help to lessen the nation’s food hyperinflation. FG ought to permit food imports for Nigerian consumption in the upcoming two weeks.

The TUC leadership also demanded that a new minimum wage law be passed and put into effect that takes into account the realities of the modern economy.

He said that the economic team of the Federal Government ought to strive for a more practical exchange rate between the naira and the dollar, which they currently had set at between N500 and N800.

Under the auspices of the Labour Civil Society Front, a coalition of civil society organizations has announced their support for the protest.

The CSOs called on all of their supporters and members nationwide to participate in the demonstration against the “unmitigated sufferings and impoverishment of Nigerians foisted by the mindless implementation of dehumanizing policies of the government.”

The coalition made it clear that neither politics nor ethnicity had any bearing on its choice to participate in the demonstration.

The LCSF’s Nkoyo Toyo, the United Action Front of Civil Society’s Hamisu San Turaki, and the Country First Movement’s Convener, Chris Nwakobia, all co-signed a statement on Monday that included this information.

In a joint statement, the coalition said that it was supporting the protest in order to force the government to act quickly on a number of issues, including widespread crime and kidnappings for ransom, widespread insecurity regarding the safety of Nigerians’ lives and property, extreme poverty, and the exorbitant cost of medications and healthcare.

“The Labour – Civil Society Front, a coalition of eminent civil society leaders and groups collaborating with the Labour movement on pro-people, pro-poor issues in Nigeria, is once again, compelled at this point to state unequivocally that we are unwavering in our support to organized Labour and, as a result, fully endorse the nationwide mass protest on hardship slated to hold on Tuesday, 27th and Wednesday, 28th February 2024,” the statement noted in part.

As a result, we implore our throngs of supporters and members throughout Nigeria to join and actively engage in the nonviolent nationwide demonstration in order to call attention to the immense suffering and impoverishment that Nigerians are subjected to as a result of the heedless application of dehumanizing economic policies by governments operating at both the national and subnational levels of the nation.

“This is our time to demand that President Tinubu’s government stop this preventable downward trend, act in the general interest of the people by paying attention to their demands, and take immediate, constructive action that goes beyond a myriad of erratic cosmetic palliatives to its primary obligation to protect lives and property and ensure the welfare and wellbeing of all citizens.”

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