Nigerians protesting against fuel subsidy removal
By Davidson Iriekpen
Ahead of today’s planned mass protests by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and a coalition of civil society organisations over the removal of fuel subsidy by the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration, lawyers have described the order of the National Industrial Court as of-no-effect on the Nigerian people.
The court sitting in Abuja, had last Friday restrained the NLC and its affiliate bodies from embarking on its planned nationwide strike today.
Speaking with THISDAY in a telephone chat last night, human rights lawyer, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), said court does not have the jurisdiction to stop Nigerians from protesting any unjust policy of the government.
Oyetibo said if at all there was an order restraining Labour from the planned protest, it did not affect the Nigerian people, adding that the order was not binding on the Nigerian people.
He stated that without being propelled by the NLC, the Nigerian people have the right to protest any unjust policy of the government.
Oyetibo argued that the rights of the Nigerian people were separate and distinct from the right of the NLC, stressing that since the Nigerian people were parties in the suit, the order against the NLC does not in any way affect them.
Also, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), has called on Nigerians to join Labour and civil society groups to call off the bluff of the government.
Akeredolu in a statement made available to THISDAY, condemned the decision by the Federal Government to deregulate the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.
He warned security agents to refrain from perpetrating any acts of repression against the people, saying that every one of them should be ready to answer for every illegal action committed.
Saying that those who should know have already told the leaders that there is no subsidy whatsoever in the price of petrol at N65, the former NBA boss added that the facts on ground confirmed that Nigerians have been made to suffer over the years.
“The socio-economic security of the people must be the primary purpose of governance. Ultimate sovereignty rests with the people. Their will is supreme. No government functionary who claims to derive his mandate from this collective will should arrogate to himself a monopoly of wisdom in a matter of national importance.
“It is subversive of the Sovereign Will of the people for a group of people, with barely disguised contempt for the rest of us, to insist that this outrageous imposition will stay even after the people have risen in unison against it.
“In a situation like this, a truly democratic government will call for a plebiscite to determine the will of the people. The dubious contraption organised to achieve a desired end was exclusive.
“The people handpicked to discuss this issue of grave significance did all but convince Nigerians on the desirability of the removal of the so-called subsidy.
“Government representatives and sponsored spokespersons only succeeded in exposing the unimaginable level of criminality in government circles. Nigerians cannot continue to subsidise sleaze consecrated as governance.
“I enjoin all patriotic Nigerians to join the organised labour organisations and civil society groups to call off the bluff of this Government.
“We must also seize this opportunity to warn security agents to refrain from perpetrating any acts of repression against the people. Every individual should be ready to answer for every illegal action.”