Samson Folarin, Wale Oyewale, Bola Bamigbola
The Joint Action Front, comprising the Nigerian Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, the Academic Staff Union of Universities and other civil society groups, on Wednesday, began a nationwide mass mobilisation against the recent increase in the price of Premium Motor Spirit, VAT and electricity tariff.
In Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, the protesters called for immediate reversal of the pump price and electricity tariff.
The JAF Coordinator in the state, Prof. Ademola Aremu, who addressed journalists at the main gate of the University of Ibadan, said, “The mass mobilisation signifies the beginning of a nationwide protest, which will put all activities in the country to a standstill if our demands are not met.”
The Chairman, NLC, Kayode Martins, said, “The leadership of the NLC is in talks with the Federal Government to reverse pump price and electricity tariff as well as to bring to the barest the current 13.22 per cent inflation rate in the country.”
In Lagos, the group converged on the office of the NLC at Yaba, from where they moved to Itire and its environs, sensitising traders and residents.
However, the protest was disrupted at Ojuelegba, as the group was confronted by men of the Area C Police Command in about seven vans.
The cops ordered them into their operational vans.
The PUNCH learnt that they were addressed by an officer, who demanded the police permit for the demonstration.
A former National President of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, Malachy Ugwummadu, said, “It was a peaceful protest with our members distributing pamphlets, which were well articulated, and our placards were well written.
“While we were talking with the policemen, we saw there was another reinforcement with about 85 policemen, almost outnumbering us.
“At at point, they picked three of our leaders. I said we would not allow them take them away. We all moved into their vans, and overwhelmed them,” he added.
He said the police officers, who were in communication with either the state Commissioner of Police or the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone 2, later appealed to them to come down from the vehicles.
The activist said both the policemen and members of the group were drenched in the rain, as they went on with the protest after their release.
Ugwummadu described the hikes in the pump price of fuel and electricity tariff as insensitive because they came on the heels of the increase in VAT.
In Osogbo, Osun State, the group called for the resignation of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd).
The protesters, who displayed a large banner containing their demands, which included reversal of electricity and pump price hike, converged on the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park, Osogbo, chanting anti-government songs and later moved to Oke Fia area and addressed newsmen at Olaiya Junction, Osogbo.
One of the conveners of the protest, Mr. Alfred Adegoke, said Buhari should resign if he could not reverse the hikes.
Another member of the group, Waheed Saka, urged Nigerians to cooperate with the group and force government to reverse the decision.
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