President Goodluck Jonathan
By Our reporters
As protests and demonstrations broke out in many states yesterday over the deregulation of the pricing of petrol – leading to the death of a protester in Ilorin, Kwara State – President Goodluck Jonathan has called an emergency session of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
The agenda for today’s meeting, THISDAY learnt, would be on two issues – deregulation and the declaration of state of emergency in 15 local government areas in four states.
FEC had adjourned last month and was supposed to reconvene on January 11 but the state of the nation prompted the shortened break, THISDAY learnt last night.
The nationwide protests, which began Monday in a few cities across the country, yesterday spread to more locations.
In the meantime, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) - the two biggest labour unions in the country - announced yesterday that their members would go on strike from Wednesday next week to press home a reversal of the deregulation policy.
The young man killed in Ilorin was said to have been protesting atop a motor bike when unknown persons allegedly shot him.
His identity could not be immediately established as policemen hurriedly seized his body and threw it into the back of a pick-up van and drove away.
NLC has said Jonathan should be held responsible for the death.
In a statement issued by the President of the NLC, Comrade Abdulwahed Omar, the NLC tasked Jonathan to produce the killers so that they can face justice.
THISDAY gathered that the protesters had marched through areas like Emirs Road, Adangba area, Ibrahim Taiwo Road and the popular Post Office junction in Ilorin.
However, the protest turned violent at the Post Office junction when the protesters were tear-gassed by armed security operatives, who shot several canisters to disperse the protesters which threw the area into pandemonium.
By press time last night, most filling stations in the capital remained shut.
Contacted yesterday on the protest, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Dabo Ezekiel, said the protester was stabbed to death by a motorcyclist on the chest when he refused to join them during the protest, denying that he died from police’s stray bullet.
But the NLC argued that since “the police are directly under the control and command of the Presidency, it is the Jonathan administration’s inhuman policy that has resulted in the murder of an innocent citizen. The NLC holds the Jonathan administration liable for this murder and advises it to fish out its agents who shot protesters in Ilorin and bring them to justice”.
Meanwhile, the Kwara State government has ordered a full scale investigation into the circumstances that led to the killing.
In the same vein, the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari, has called on the people of the state not to, in the process of expressing their rejection of removal of fuel subsidy, take laws into their hands.
The protests, which spread like wild fire, also took place in the following towns and cities across the nation.
Bayelsa: Highway Blocked
The rage of the protests soon provided opportunity for some militants numbering about 200 to invade the busy East-West (Warri/Port Harcourt) highway and blocked it.
This caused huge traffic jam that traumatised travellers on the route.
The closure, which lasted almost four hours, however, ended when the militant protesters were dislodged by soldiers of the Joint (military) Task Force (JTF) after a prolonged gun battle.
The youths at about 6.00am had set bonfire at the Bomadi junction at Orhoror town in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State forcing all motorists to park as they chanted and danced along the highway.
Ibadan: City on its knees
In Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, a massive protest embarked upon by the students of the various institutions based in Ibadan paralysed business and political activities in the ancient city.
The protest, which kicked off at the University of Ibadan as early as 8am, was embarked upon in collaboration with the Coalition of Youths Against Fuel Subsidy Removal in the state with a vow to make the country ungovernable for President Jonathan.
The protesters marched from Bodija market through Mokola roundabout and berthed at the Governor’s Office in Agodi, Ibadan, chanting anti-government songs.
The protesters later presented a letter to Governor Abiola Ajimobi for onward delivery to Jonathan.
Uyo: Passengers, Drivers Clash
Rather than direct their anger at the cause of the hike in fuel prices, taxi drivers and passengers clashed in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, Tuesday.
But for the prompt intervention of security operatives and passers-by, the clash might have resulted in large scale violence.
THISDAY gathered that there was stampede following the clash between the taxi drivers and their passengers along the busy Oron road by Plaza. Security operatives swiftly moved in and quelled what could have resulted in a pandemonium.
Kano: City Grounded
The soul of Kano city was literally seized by the mass of protesting youths who milled into the streets protesting the fuel subsidy removal, while policemen battled to disperse them along the BUK, Ibrahim Taiwo and State roads in Kano.
THISDAY observed that commercial activities were paralysed, while most motorists - private and commercial - were off the streets.
Only a few tricycle riders were seen riding through the streets that have suddenly become too spacious for them. They found no passengers to carry.
However, a combined team of soldiers from the Nigeria Army, Air Force and armed riot policemen, Civil Defence Corps and vigilante groups were at strategic locations and government buildings to forestall any attempt to break law and order in the state.
Addressing reporters in his office, Deputy Governor of the state, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, said that the decision by the Federal Government to remove the fuel subsidy was taken in the best interest of the nation’s economy.
Kaduna: Planned Protest Disrupted
A group known as Occupy Nigeria, which was mobilising residents of Kaduna metropolis for what it described as the “mother of all rallies” scheduled for the Murtala Square on Friday, was dispersed by the police.
The group was collecting signatures for protest against the recent removal of subsidy on fuel by the Federal Government at Murtala Square yesterday when the police stormed the place and dispersed them.
But the Coordinator of the group, Tajudeen Oladoja, a lawyer, told journalists that they remained undaunted about the protest, declaring that Nigerians must not allow the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government to stand.
Lagos: “Revolution Walk”
Thousands of people under the aegis of the Joint Action Front (JAF) protesting the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government, yesterday sacked motorists along the Ikorodu Road, Lagos, and the adjoining streets as they marched to register their grouse over the policy.
The demonstration took off from the NLC Secretariat, Tejuosho, Yaba at about 9am and ended at the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi Park, Ojota, Lagos.
The protest was led by prominent activist and lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, widow of Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Ganiyat, and Dr. Dipo Fasina, the JAF convener.
Armed with different placards to register their grievances, the protesters marched through Maryland Bus Stop, swelling in their ranks as they proceeded to Ojota
In the cause of the peaceful demonstration, traffic was stalled along Jibowu, Fadeyi, Palm Grove, Onipanu, Anthony, Maryland and all the way to Ojota where the protest ended and many public transport passengers joined in the protest which they called ‘a revolution walk’ against the Federal Government.
However, the demonstration also stalled operation of the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT).
While addressing the protesters during the demonstration, Fashina, and Secretary, JAF, Comrade Abiodun Aremu, both said the action initiated by the group and other pressure groups was to sensitise Lagosians on the need to rise and reject the decision of fuel subsidy removal by the Federal Government.