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Monday, 16 January 2012

Joint Action Front (JAF) in Lagos Condemns ‘Militarisation’ of Nigeria, Rejects N97 petrol price

Organizers of today's march, the Joint Action Front (JAF) in Lagos has condemned the ‘militarization’ of Nigeria, and reiterated that no amount of intimidation or harassment can make it abandon its struggle to free Nigerians from the economic slavery of the Jonathan administration inspired by the IMF and the World Bank inspired.

In a statement signed by Ebun Adegboruwa, the JAF stressed that the people of Nigeria have rejected the arbitrary imposition of N97 on the pump price of petroleum, and will accept nothing below N65.
He said that it was in furtherance of that resolve that many Nigerians, led by civil society groups, activists, lawyers, and members of JAF, today took to the streets of Lagos, marching through to Ojuelegba and on to Fadeyi and Palmgrove, following their gathering at Labour House, Yaba.
He narrated how, at Palmgrove, a detachment of armed soldiers and policemen invaded the procession, insisting that the rally could not go beyond that point.
“They were led by a Captain, who told us that they had express orders to shoot,” he said.  “We engaged them in dialogue but they insisted we could not go further.”
Mr. Adegboruwa said that it was while they were consulting among themselves on their next line of action that the soldiers shot live bullets and tear gas canisters into the midst of protesters.
“It is condemnable for government to unleash terror and violence on defenseless citizens who were exercising their constitutional right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” he said.  “We are not in a situation of war in Nigeria presently and it is against all democratic norms for government to invade peaceful and armless civilians.”
The statement saluted the salute the courage and resolve of the people of Nigeria, and reiterated the confidence that, together, they will triumph.
Also today, the Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola, condemned the deployment of soldiers on the streets of Lagos, Nigeria’s economic capital. 
He observed that the citizens who have gathered in several parts of Lagos in the protests have largely conducted themselves peacefully, singing and dancing. 
“That in my view should not offend those of us in Government,” he said in a public speech. “The majority of these people who represent diverse interests have not broken any law. If they have, it is my opinion that in a constitutional democracy, it is the police that has the responsibility for restoring law and order if civil protests threatens the breach of the peace.”
He stressed that that constitutes no justification for sending out soldiers after unarmed citizens.
“Every one of us, or at least majority of us who hold public office, danced and sang before these same people when we were seeking their votes,” he recalled.
And then he asked: “Why should we feel irritated when they sing and dance in protest against what we have done?”

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