Labour accuses government of hiring thugs to break protests

Protesters in Abuja... on Tuesday

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) says it has uncovered plans by the Federal Government to import thugs into the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to disrupt the peaceful mass protest of Nigerians against the contentious removal of subsidy on petrol.

The protest, which recorded massive turnout by angry Nigerians in its second day, appears to be pushing government into acts of desperation, as every passing day seem to be attracting more Nigerians to join in pressurizing President Goodluck Jonathn to rescind his decision and return the pump price of petrol to N65 per litre.

The labour movement, in a joint statement today by acting secretary General of the NLC, Owei Lakemfa, and TUC, Secretary General, John Kolawole, said it was putting Nigerians on the alert of plans by the government to import armed thugs into Abuja to attack the anti-fuel price hike protesters.

Labour said thugs brought into Abuja for the purpose were armed with various weapons, including guns, adding that those of them who showed up on the streets of the city yesterday afternoon were former militants and students from Nasarawa Polytechnic, who operated under the banner of “PDP Transformation Movement”.

“Clearly, the Presidency had intended to use the police and army to carry out planned attacks on peaceful protesters, but due to the outcry over previous murders, it has opted to use armed thugs,” the unions said.

“Labour warns the Presidency that it will be held responsible for whatever atrocities these thugs commit. If the thugs attack the anti-fuel price hike protesters, the Labour Movement will be compelled to ask all citizens to march on Abuja and take the city.

“Government must wake up to the reality that Nigerians in their tens of millions have spoken out across the country against the fuel price hike and it will do well to listen to the voice of the people.”

The NLC president, Abdulwaheed Omar, while addressing protesters today in Abuja said  since the beginning of the mass action, government agents have engaged in activities calculated to provoke Nigerians, pointing out that so far protesters have conducted themselves with maturity and decorum.

Mr Omar drew attention to the killing of some youths in cold blood by the Police in various locations while participating in the nationwide indefinite protest, saying that had only emboldened the people to continue to demand their right, as they would not allow the the protesters to die in vain.

He said labour would lodge a formal complaint at the International Criminal Court (ICC) against President Jonathan and Inspector General, Hafiz Ringim, for the murders.  

But Mr, Ringim has denied any wrongdoing.

He said two of the incidents that resulted in deaths were not related to the protest, saying while the labour protest was holding at the Race Course in Kano, some miscreants were busy looting at the Government House.

The IGP, who spoke in a meeting to review the progress so far by law enforcement agents with regards to the handling of the protest, said he had already ordered an investigation into the killing in Lagos.

He promised to make the result of the enquiry and charge the culprits to court.


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