Security agents comprising police, the State Security Service, and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps have stopped a protest against the increase in the prices of fuel, electricity and value-added tax in the country.
The protest led by a civil society organisation, Joint Action Forum, (JAF), started as a rally in front of the secretariat of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, (NUJ), along Farm Centre Road in Kano on Tuesday morning amidst heavy security presence.
The leader of the group, Musa Bashir, called on the federal government to reverse the price of fuel from N160 to the 2012 price of N86 and to also reverse the increase in rates of electricity and value-added tax.
They called for an “immediate and unconditional reversal of the hike in petrol price from the current N160:00 to N86:50 price of 2012, and reversal of the increase in electricity tariffs and VAT.
“The government has the responsibility to make our refineries work and build new ones in order to ensure availability of petroleum products at cheaper and affordable prices.
“Re-engineering of the security apparatus to ensure organised crimes such as terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery are reduced to the barest minimum if not curtailed,” he appealed.
After a heated exchange of words between the protesters and security agents, the security officers insisted that the protest would not hold lest it be hijacked by hoodlums to disrupt the peace in the city.
Although the security agents could not speak to journalists on the matter, the protesters declared that the struggle has just begun and they called on the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress to stop dragging its feet on the matter and ensure that the agreed minimum wage of N30,000 is implemented.
Security agents disrupted a similar protest in Lagos and other parts of the south-west, last week, clamping down on both the protesters and the journalists covering the event.
Last Monday, the Kano Civil Society Forum (KCSF), an umbrella body of over 180 civil society organisations (CSOs), called on the federal government to reverse the recent increase in petrol and electricity prices.
The president of the forum, Ibrahim Waiya, made the call while briefing journalists in Kano.
Mr Waiya said the forum calls for “immediate reversals of the new price regimes for both electricity and the PMS.”
“Government should focus its energy on reducing cost of governance, blocking of leakages, and enhancing its revenue sources.
“In the event such issue came up, the government should allow a participatory and all inclusive negotiation process, ” he said.
Mr Waiya added that the KCSF is willing to partner with all stakeholders to ensure that the government reverses the price increase.
He described the price hike as anti-people and unacceptable when most Nigerians are struggling to survive after months of COVID-19 lockdown.
“We strongly believe that such increase will further worsen the already deteriorating living conditions of Nigerians.
“Hence, government should be looking at giving palliatives to its citizens to cushion the devastating effects of the global pandemic,” he said.
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