A procession rally in memory of the victims who died in last month’s protest against the withdrawal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government was yesterday stopped abruptly by the police at Maryland, Lagos.
The police then arrested a former President of Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU), Dr. Dipo Fasina, the widow of the late Lagos lawyer-activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Ganiyat, his son, Mohammed and 13 others.
The procession was to mark the 40-day memorial of the victims who were shot dead by security operatives during the nationwide protest. The subsidy withdrawal led to an increase in petrol price to N141 per litre from the former price of N65. Government was, however, forced to review its decision with the price coming down to N97.
The procession had taken off peacefully at 9am from the Yaba, Lagos Secretariat of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and was headed for the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park at Ojota when gun-wielding policemen intercepted the marchers at Maryland.
The policemen led by Deputy Superintendent Noah Adesoyin demanded the police permit authorising the procession.
An argument ensued between the two parties with the police asking the activists to disperse. The activists insisted on continuing.
The policemen fired canisters of teargas into the crowd and arrested some of the protesters.
The names of the others arrested by the police were given as Ayodele Akele, Tunde Agunbiade, Keshinro, Popoola Ajayi, Sola Olatunde, a journalist with City FM – Iyatse Joshua, Kazeem Akinrinade, Kulu Oladejo, Alex Omoteseyin, Prophet Moses Adeola, Akin Adedeji, Agbodemu Musiliu, and Ismail Olawale.
They were, however, released last night on bail following the intervention of Lagos lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana.
The procession was organised by the Joint Action Front (JAF), the Lagos branches of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and The Muslim Congress (TMC).
The TMC expressed disappointment at the police action which it described as insensitive, unprofessional, irresponsible and dastardly.
It said the deployment of aggressive policemen to ” repress, brutalise and injure innocent Nigerians on peaceful procession” was ” uncivilised, intolerant and undemocratic, considering the fact that the procession had been widely publicised through press conference to dispel fears, suspicions and insinuations from government and security agencies.
“Even journalists and pressmen from TVC, Galaxy, AIT, Silver Bird and print media were not spared. The use of tear-gas for peaceful protest devoid of violence caused pandemonium, injuries, traffic jam and confusion at Maryland-Ojota area. Whosoever ordered the disruption has made a costly mistake by subverting free speech and freedom of association, a cardinal principle cherished by the international community and advanced democracies. This is another error from the Nigerian Police authority and government.”
Source: The Nation