• Sunday, April 14, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Protest: NLC alleges “FG planning to disrupt peaceful process”

Ahead of the Tuesday nationwide peaceful protests, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), on Sunday, accused the Federal Government of perfecting plans to disrupt the process.

Recall that the labour body earlier had fixed February 27 and 28 to mobilise its members across the country to protest what they see as unbearable economic hardship, especially with regards to the policies of government since the removal of fuel subsidy, in May, 2023

The Department of State Services DSS had earlier, in response to the planned protest, also warned the Labour group against staging a protest, citing the possibility of it being hijacked by non state actors to disrupt public peace.

The NLC had in quick reaction to the warning from the DSS said it was offering unsolicited advise.

Also, over the weekend, Lateef Fagbemi, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, warned that the NLC will be embarking on the protest illegally

Fagbemi in a letter to the NLC, said “I wish to draw your esteemed attention to the Joint Press Release dated 8th February 2024, containing a 14-day ultimatum, jointly issued by the President of the NLC and President of the TUC as well as the notice of a two-day national protest issued by the NLC President on 16th February 2024.

According to him, ” a cursory perusal of the press release on the protest, “clearly shows that the planned protest is premised on or connected with alleged non-implementation of the 16-point agreement reached with the Federal Government on October 02, 2023, consequences of the hike in the price of PMS, and other associated issues.

Fagbemi reminded the NLC of a subsisting order restraining the union from embarking on any industrial action.

The NLC in quick reaction to the warning from the DSS said it was offering unsolicited advise.

President of NLC, Joe Ajaero on Sunday, raised the allegations in a statement to the media, saying we would want to inform Nigerians that the State has perfected plans to attack our peaceful rallies across the country.

He alleged that one of the groups being primed to attack our peaceful rallies is by a nebulous name, Nigeria Civil Society Forum (NCSF).

“It is therefore safe to assert again that the proposed cause of action by NLC is targeted at achieving objectives or promoting issues connected with a hike in fuel price and consequential matters of palliatives workers ‘ welfare, and associated government policies.

According to the NLC leadership, NCSF is one of the emergency groups put together, funded, promoted and remote-controlled by government to cause violence against our members for electing to peacefully protest against the hunger in the land.

He said the Nigerian State should know that the solution to our horrible economic situation and hunger is not by suppressing peaceful dissent or inflicting violence on peacefully protesting citizens as the government did in Minna and other cities where its agents tear-gassed and beat up women before locking them up for raising their voice against hunger.

Ajaero said the solution does not lie in the deployment of State -sponsored terror, stressing that the pangs of hunger cannot be cowed by bullets or tear gas.

Ajaero stated emphatically, “In light of this, we at the Nigeria Labour Congress and civil society allies are moving ahead with our protest rallies against economic hardship and insecurity in line with the decision of the National Executive Council.

“As citizens, we have a fundamental right to peaceful protest and history bears us witness that our protests are always peaceful except in instances of State-engineered violence.

“In light of this, we advise the State to put on its thinking cap and find solutions to the pains it continues to cause the people instead of further dehumanising them.

“If it is irrevocably set on the path of violence against us and other peace-loving Nigerians, it will be making a costly mistake because if we are attacked there will be a total shut down via withdrawal of services by workers. Let no one be deceived, we and other deprived Nigerians cannot easily be intimidated.

“Lest those in power now who may have forgotten be reminded, we faced a more resourceful and resilient adversary in order to have democracy. All we are saying now is that; let there be food for the people, _let the people live in safety, let the people live a life of dignity devoid of suffocating IMF/World Bank economic policies._

“Once again we advise those waiting in the wings to unleash violence on us that this is not about the NLC but about Nigerians who are saying “enough is enough”, about a people who have resolved not to be further pushed into the pit of misery and hopelessness, while a few live in obscene luxury at our collective expense.

“We are by this statement calling the attention of the international human rights body and the governments of the African Union and the United Nations that the right of the people to peacefully protest and demand for freedom from economic slavery and hardship is being threatened by the Nigerian State.

“We however remain resolute, determined and prepared to express our pain and grief in a peaceful manner as Nigerians come 27th and 28th of February 2024”.