Don’t Allow Hoodlums Hijack Your Protests—Police Tells Labour
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
As the organised labour unions in the country prepare for a nationwide protest from Wednesday, August 2, 2023, to force the government to meet their demands, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has warned those planning to cause mayhem under the guise of the demonstrations.
The acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr Kayode Egbetokun, in a statement issued by the spokesman of the security agency, Mr Olumuyiwa Adejobi, ordered watertight security across the country.
The protests are being organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) due to the effect of the removal of the petrol subsidy by President Bola Tinubu.
On Tuesday, Mr Tinubu rolled out some palliatives to support Nigerians, but the labour unions said they were not impressed with the government and would go on with the demonstrations, which some analysts have warned could be counterproductive, especially because the economy was gasping for breath.
In the statement today, Mr Egbetokun expressed deep concerns about the proposed action of the labour unions, though he said they had the “right to peaceful protest, as enshrined in our Constitution.”
He urged them to be peaceful and prevent the protests from “being hijacked by miscreants, owing to the previous ugly experiences of such protests in most major cosmopolitan cities in the country.”
The police chief has directed “the Commissioners of Police in charge of various commands, and supervisory Assistant Inspectors-General of Police, to engage in fruitful discussions with the NLC/TUC leadership to foster understanding and reach common grounds on the planned protests.
“A peaceful and coordinated approach is crucial to achieving meaningful solutions and preventing any form of violence or disruptions to public order, should the protests persist.”
“The Nigeria Police Force reiterates its commitment to ensuring the safety and security of all citizens during the period of the planned protests as all necessary measures to facilitate the peaceful conduct of these demonstrations have been emplaced.
“However, it is hereby reaffirmed that any attempt by miscreants to exploit the situation for violent purposes viz-a-viz vandalism, gangsterism, and extortion will be met with a firm, professional and commensurate lawful approach. The police will not tolerate any act that threatens the peace and well-being of our country.
“In light of the potential challenges posed by the planned protests, the Nigeria Police Force is fully prepared to deploy all available resources to maintain law and order and protect our citizens’ lives and property. The IGP, therefore, calls on all officers to be vigilant, professional, and uphold the highest standards of conduct during this period,” the statement added.
Mr Egbetokun appealed to “all stakeholders, including the NLC, TUC, and other civil society groups, to embrace peaceful dialogue as the most effective means of resolving grievances, while also reemphasizing that the Police is committed to ensuring a secure and conducive environment for open dialogue, constructive engagement and mutual understanding for a seamless exercise of civil rights.”