Soldiers take over Lagos roads

January 17, 2012 8:07 am

, LAGOS, Jan 17 – Lagos woke up to an unexpected occupation on Monday by gun-wielding military officers. Armoured tanks with truck loads of military officers were placed at strategic spots in Nigeria’s commercial city Lagos, leaving an uneasy and pensive calm across the city.
After a marathon meeting with Nigeria’s unions last night, President Goodluck Jonathan announced a reduction [1] in the price of fuel from 141 naira a litre to 97 naira. As a result, the unions agreed to call off their street protests although their strike action continues.
Strike still continues
Abdulahi Omar, the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, asked protesters to “sit at home” but stated that “the strike still continues”.
The labour union wants the government to reverse its fuel hike ahead of renewed talks on the deregulation of the petroleum industry.
Despite a cold and windy morning, pockets of defiant protesters remained on the streets of Lagos, angry that the president’s announcement did not go far enough.
Civil defence corps
The Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Square which has been the venue for thousands of peaceful protesters throughout last week, was completely cordoned off by the military who were joined by the police, civil defence corps and mobile policemen.
Those moving towards the major road along the park were thoroughly searched and asked for their destination before they were allowed to proceed.
Security operatives mounted roadblocks around the square to prevent people from moving anywhere near the park. Those trying to gather around were dispersed and told to go back home.
A standoff occurred at Ketu bus stop (which is a few meters away from the Freedom square) as a number of youth gathered and started chanting at the military officers.
The soldiers quickly cordoned them off. Some of the youth carried banners saying “it is N65 or nothing.”
One woman shouted at soldiers: “Shoot me, I am ready to die, we will all fight for the second independence of this country from corrupt and inept government”.
More complaints
The protest, led by the labour union and civil society groups was suspended on Friday, to enable people to go to the shops and stock up with essentials should the strike continue. However, most petrol stations were closed during the weekend, making it difficult for people to travel.
A motorcyclist told Radio Netherlands that it is difficult to get fuel in the city. “The petrol stations all refuse to open as they await the government’s stand on the debate on the price of petroleum. It’s been very difficult for me to work since this crisis started”

This article was published by Radio Netherlands Worldwide


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