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Protest in Lagos, Benin, 13 arrested

Posted by By PETER ANOSIKE, CHRIS ANUCHA, OLA AGBAJE (Lagos), TONY OSAUZO (Benin) and FRANCIS AWOWOLE-BROWNE (Abuja) on 2007/06/01 | Views: 474 |

Protest in Lagos, Benin, 13 arrested


Policemen were kept busy in Lagos, Benin and Osun States Tuesday, as activists carried out their planned protest and some of them were arrested for carrying a mock coffin of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Policemen were kept busy in Lagos, Benin and Osun States Tuesday, as activists carried out their planned protest and some of them were arrested for carrying a mock coffin of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Reports say five persons were arrested in Benin and 11 in the Ikeja area of Lagos where protesters were found with the mock coffin. Armed policemen in Osun also disrupted a symposium organised by the Joint Action Forum (JAF) to protest the arrest of opposition members in the state.

Some of the suspects arrested in Lagos were identified as Debo Adeniran (who allegedly carried the coffin) Paul Teimolode, a lawyer; Mrs Rabi Egujie, David Falola, Tayo Akingbade, Leks Adebanjo, Jamiu Ogunsola and Monday Alabi.

The protesters were coming from a rally held at Ifako-Ijaiye Local Government Area and heading for the National Headquarters of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Yaba, when they encountered the police.

After the NLC called for their release, the police at the State Criminal Investigations Department (SCID) Panti, allowed Lagos lawyer, Mr Femi Falana to take the suspects to bail.

As early as 7am, policemen from the state police command in Osun were sighted on major roads of Osogbo, the state capital, while intense and thorough search were conducted on private vehicles.
Secretariat of the Labour party in Osogbo; venue of the symposium was manned by mobile men who placed themselves in strategic locations preventing people from gathering for any rally.

The JAF in a statement signed by Comrades Aderemi Ayanlade and Kola Ibrahim, Chairman and Secretary respectively stated that "the civil society only answered the clarion call by the Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO), which declared 28 and 29 of May a ‘sit at home’ days to protest the result of the general election."

The group condemned the action of the police and members of the State Security Services (SSS), saying preventing people from expressing themselves in the way they like was undemocratic.
In another release, Forum of Registered Political Parties in the state described the sealing of the Labour Party secretariat as draconian, arm twisting, oppressive and uncivilised.
The swearing - in of Senator Oserheimen Osunbor as governor in Edo State, was foreshadowed by police firing live bullets to scare peaceful protesters in Benin.

As the swearing – in was going on at the Sam Ogbemudia Stadium, policemen from the Special Anti – Robbery Squad (SARS) were confronting protesters who were against the conduct of the 2007 general elections under the aegis of Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO).

Edo State LASCO Secretary, Mr. Tony Erha who spoke to journalists in Benin said police fired bullets indiscriminately and in the process shot at the tyre and fuel tank of a Hilux Jeep carrying some of the protesters at Ikpokpan Street, off Sapele Road, Benin.

At press time, the whereabouts of 28 protesters was unknown, while five others were arrested by the police. Two other cars were said to have been shot at by the police, according to Mr. Erha.
Efforts to get police reaction failed as repeated calls to the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Peter Ogboi went unanswered.

Meanwhile, the former Governor of Edo State, Chief Lucky Igbinedion was Tuesday booed and pelted with sachets of water at the Sam Ogbemudia Stadium.

The governor’s ordeal began shortly after Senator Osunbor was sworn in and addressed him as former governor as he was making his speech. No sooner had Osunbor mentioned Chief Igbinedion than the crowd started booing, just as he was stoned with sachets of water and other items, as the attempted to drive out of the stadium.

In his speech, Gov. Osunbor promised to build a new Edo State, pledging not to disappoint the people.
"Edo State under my leadership will be humane and will come to the rescue of the down – trodden, the weak and vulnerable segment of the society. We shall ensure that nothing is done to increase the burden of the poor. At the same time, we will see to it that those profiting from the current state of affairs are assisted to find alternative and legitimate sources of livelihood," he said.

Daily Sun gathered that there were pockets of protests in other parts of Lagos.
For instance, in Ijora area, some people were seen making bonfires but they were immediately dislodged by the police.

But the Police spokesman Mr Olubode Ojajuni, debunked the claim that protesters were arrested in Lagos.

He accused those claiming that they were harrassed or arrested of seeking cheap publicity. He said what the police did was to give them protection and to dissuade them from doing things that could lead to break down of law and order.

He said the protesters were not up to 15 and as such, could not have done anything to warrant their arrest.

Labour said it was happy that the regime of Chief Obasanjo had gone but that the memory would be painful because it "will bring back the memories of the prodigal government that sold the country’s resources, increased poverty, sacked workers and generally inflicted pains on the populace"

According to the Congress, the Police claimed the coffin symbolized the death of the former President and not his regime as explained by the activists protesting the fraudulent April elections as directed by the Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO).

Though, there was no protest in Abuja as the labour leaders were not visible anywhere within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) contrary to their earlier vow, but the General Secretary of the NLC, Mr. John Odah confirmed that 13 of the activists protesting in parts of Lagos and Benin were picked up during the action.

Congratulating the people for obeying the two-day sit at home action called by the LASCO, the NLC scribe maintained that the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero would be brought to book for the force used by his men against the defenceless protesters.

The Coalition argued that to carry mock coffin could not have amounted to an offence as claimed by the police saying "this is not a crime. Indeed, Nigerians under the constitution have the right to freely express themselves even if in such a unique and symbolic manner."

The group later warned the new President, Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua not to toe the path of Chief Obasanjo by holding the citizens hostage through unpopular policies.

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Comments (3)

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Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

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Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.