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News Update (January 10, 2012 09:03 AM...)

Street protest suspended in Kaduna


Photo: Fuel protesters at the Unoity and freedom square in Kaduna on Monday 9/1/2012

Kaduna (WorldStage Newsonline)-- The Coalition of Civil Society, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the NBA in Kaduna State on Tuesday suspended street protest in the state in order to forestall the break down of law and order in the state.

The suspension came just as the Civil Society organization accused the government of attempting to deliberately cause crisis in the country for security operatives to shoot protesting youths.

Residents of Kaduna had trooped early in the morning to continue the protest over the removal on oil subsidy by the Federal Government on January 1.

Hundreds of youths marched through the major streets in the metropolis and environs carrying placards with various inscriptions to buttress their anger.

The Sir Kashim Ibrahim Government house, the seat of power was condone-off buy security operatives, following an attempt by protesters to force themselves into the place while unconfirmed report had it that one person was shot.

The coalition said, in view of the peculiar security situation in the state, they had decided to suspend the street protest in the state.

Chairman of NLC in the state, comrade Adamu Ango said that the coalition will from time to time update the populace on development about the strike, saying that labour started the strike peacefully and wants it to end peacefully.

We dont want a breakdown of law and order in the state and that is why we decided to suspend street protests for now. We have meet at the level of Nigeria Labour of Congress and other civil society groups and the NBA and have agreed to suspend street protests.

We want to plead with people that protesting on the streets to go back to their houses. It is only the people that are saddled with the responsibility of monitoring the strike that are to come to the NLC secretariat daily.

The NLC, TUC, NBA and civil society groups will be addressing press conferences at every point in time when the need arises. We want to cease this opportunity to pleaded with our teaming youth who are supporting this our strike not to take the laws into their hand.

They should not continue to protest where security agencies are trying to stop them. If they are ask to go back, please, in the interest of peace, obey and go back. The issues of this fuel subsidy is already known worldwide and we will continue to make our case known and so, we dont want a situation where have casualties. We started this protest peacefully and we went to end it peacefully.

The Chairman of TUC in the state, Comrade Shehu Mohammed commended the conduct of members and the residents of the state for the peaceful protest so far.

At this point in time, we want to appeal to our members and members of the public to be calm as the message has been sent across the globe and to the presidency. Therefore, no more street protest until the people of Kaduna state hear from us.

We called for the protest in the first place and we are not saying that in order to maintain law and order in the state, the protest should be suspended until the people hear from us. We really appreciate the cooperation given to us and hope that the issue will be resolved very soon, he said.

Barrister Festus Okoye spokesman of the civil society groups noted that due to the a peculiar security challenge in the state, they have decided to handle the protest in the state in a peculiar manner.

He said: I think that there are critical issues involved in the challenge we have right now. The first issue is that we have a peculiar security challenge in Kaduna and because of those challenges, we have decided to handle this particular struggle in a peculiar way.

It seems that it is the government that is trying to make Nigeria ungovernable. It seems to me that what the government is trying to do is to create a situation of violence so that they can claim that it is the civil society groups and labour movement that has created an ungovernable situation leading to an atmosphere of chaos and we are not going to allow that.

The constitution provides that the government owes its people two main duties. The first duty is to provide for their welfare and the second duty is to provide for their security. All the figures that the government is branding around as palliatives does not have content and context because when you talk about palliatives, you are still talking about subsidy.

Why should Nigerian be paying for fuel like those countries that dont produce oil? Is it not better for us to close our oil well, start full scale importation of oil and be paying as much as others are paying? We completely understand what the government wants to do and we dont want to play into their hands. We all know the consequences.

But let me say that civil society groups will move to protect democracy. We will not defend the government that wants its people to die of starvation. People are angry and we are trying to curtail that anger; but the way government officials are speaking leaves much to be desired. You cannot present Nigerians with a situation of irreversibility.

If you are making policies and laws for them and 99 percent of them says they dont want it, you have to look inward and ask yourself, since the policies I have made are not for the people, is it not possible to reverse them or come to dialogue with the people and see how it can benefit them?

What we are saying is that we will join labour and continue to address rallies, but we want to move our people out of the street so that the government will not have any excuse for shooting our people and turn round to blame it on labour and civil society groups. However, we will continue to ask our people to hold on to this struggle because it is a struggle for life and struggle for survival.

Story by Innocent Senyo (isenyo2005@yahoo.com)

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