Widow of the legal icon, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Ganiyat, lawer and activist, Mr. Femi Falana this morning, led thousands of Lagosians to protest against the removal to fuel subsidy by the Federal Government.
The protesters under the aegis of Joint Action Front, JAF, enjoyed the backing of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress, TUC.
They converged on the Lagos Secretariat of the NLC, Yaba this moring at 8 a.m. and moved en masse to Anthony, Maryland while distributing flyers to people they met on the road.
Addressing the protesters, JAF chairman and former leader of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Dr. Ajibade Fashina, said the group will carry out its protest across the country.
JAF expressed disappointment in President Goodluck Jonathan who, at the commencement of his tenure, promised to end suffering of Nigerians but he had added to their yoke with the removal of fuel subsidy.
Addressing the protesters, vice president of the NLC, Comrade Isa Aremu said Nigerians should not allow Jonathan and his cohorts to fool them.
Aremu stated that while the majority of Nigerians battle poverty at the home front, the ruling elite have enough resources to travel overseas for medical treatment.
He urged the protesters to ensure the new fuel regime does not stand because it can only increase the hardship of the masses.
One of the flyers distributed by JAF members urged Nigerians to reject the privatization proposal of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, IMF.
Another flyer admonished the government to punish profiteers who had been at the throat of the Nigerian masses while urging the public to boycott and shut filling stations that sell petrol above N65, diesel N70 and kerosene N50 per litre.
An atempt was made to disperse the protesters when they got to Maryland by men of the Rapid Response Squad, RRS, led by their commander, Tunde Sobulo, a deputy Commissioner of Police. But the crowd continued to surge towards Alausa at the time of filing this report.
Other activists in the group include Comrade Amos Igun, Segun Sango, son of the late Afro Beat King, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Seun, and Secretary-General of JAF, Comrade Abiodun Aremu.
Also in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, thousands of youths this morning came out enmasse to protest the removal of subsidy on petrol which has led to an increase in the cost of transportation, goods and services.
The deployment of security operatives to the city, however, prevented the protest from degenerating into violence.
About 100 policemen, soldiers and SSS operatives were deployed to the Governorâ€™s Office to protect lives and properties.
Doors of banks and business premises remained shut as the protesters, carrying placards denouncing the removal of subsidy on petrol, marched round the city, including the Governorâ€™s Office in Agodi, Agbowo, Gate, Dugbe, Challenge and other areas.
Banks customers were turned back as the banks refused to open their gates.
Dozens of customers who thronged the First Bank branch at the University of Ibadan, went home disappointed when they found the gates locked.
The protesters who are mostly youths from the â€˜Coalition of Youths Against Fuel Subsidy Removal,â€™ carried various placards condemning the government action.
They called on President Goodluck Jonathan and some of his ministers to resign for lacking the capability to administer the country.
The protesters urged the National Assembly to call off its recess and reconvene to stop the executive from further impoverishing Nigerians.
In a letter signed by Tokunbo Salako, President, Studentsâ€™ Union, UI and addressed to President Jonathan, the youths stated: â€œWe, the youths in Ibadan, in consonant with the yearnings of the masses who voted for you, hereby reject the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government. We see this as an attempt to aggravate poverty, cripple small and medium scale businesses and throw the masses into perpetual economic chaos.
â€œHowever, we are aware of the position of the Governorsâ€™ Forum, which you are part of. We see this as a cruel betrayal of the mandate the masses sweated, toiled and laboured to give the governors during the April 2011 election. We are also aware that majority of the opposition parties shared the same position with the ruling party on this issue. Thus, we youths have taken a stand to reject removal of fuel subsidy and we shall mobilise all youths, traders, students, artisans, and all citizens of the state to demonstrate our anger until our governor pronounces publicly that the people of Oyo State reject fuel subsidy removal and relay this position to the Presidency. We voted you as our governor and that demands that your position at all levels should be representative of our groanings,â€ the youths stated in their letter which they gave to Governor Ajimobi.
On the social networking site, Facebook, hundreds of Nigerians also condemned the presidentâ€™s action and called on him to rescind his decision. They described his action as insensitive and ill-timed.
In Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, protesters this morning burnt a bullion van while one person was reportedly killed during protest against petrol subsidy removal.
â€”Dedeigbo Ayodeji & GBENRO ADESINA/Ibadan