YRC COMMENDS JUNE 12 PROTESTERS FOR THEIR COURAGE AND CONDEMNS HEAVY REPRESSION BY THE POLICE
CALLS ON NLC AND TUC TO DECLARE A 48-HR GENERAL STRIKE AND MASS PROTEST AGAINST VICIOUS ATTACKS ON DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS, INSECURITY, HIGH COST OF LIVING, MASS POVERTY AND JOBLESSNESS
The Youth Rights Campaign (YRC) commends the youth and poor masses who came out on Saturday 12 June 2021 to protest against the rising insecurity, poverty, joblessness and other anti-poor policies of the Muhammadu Buhari capitalist administration despite the heavy militarization and threat of repression.
We urge the protesters not to relent. We cannot submit our freedom to a dictatorship which is hell bent on stifling democratic rights of expression and association whilst unable to deal with the urgent social and economic issues of the day such as insecurity and daily kidnappings and killings, poverty, joblessness and other anti-poor economic policies. Now is the time to take stock, reflect, review and re-strategise for more mass actions until all demands are met.
Even though the protests were small in a majority of cities where they were held due to fear of violence and crisis which the state had carefully orchestrated days prior to June 12 and circulated widely through the rumour mill to force people to stay indoors, the support and sympathy of Nigerians for the protesters was not in doubt. This was graphically illustrated in the support, care and protection that residents, shopkeepers and traders offered to protesters in Lagos for instance as they were chased by anti-riot policemen into adjoining streets. In Ibadan, Oyo state, the protest was quite large showing that many Nigerians are fed up with the status quo.
The YRC strongly condemns the heavy repression visited on the protesters by the police especially in Lagos, Abuja and Calabar. We hereby demand the release of any arrested and detained protesters.
In particular, we condemn the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, for unleashing his men on peaceful protesters. Also we consider his interview with BBC Yoruba wherein he alleged that the protesters were dispersed by the police because they tried to set up tires to barricade the highway as a lie from the pit of hell. It is either the CP is ill informed and ignorant of the circumstances surrounding the activities of his men at Ojota or he was being clever by half. Whatever it is, we consider it a responsibility to tell the world that no protester barricaded the road with tires. Rather as the protesters marched with their banners, within 10 minutes of their appearance at the protest venue, the police which had laid siege on the venue hours before descended on them and immediately, without prior warning, opened fire on them. As the protesters scattered and ran into the adjoining streets, the police ran after them and made some arrests. All these were captured by the cameras of journalists from a variety of electronic, print and online media who were stationed at the Ojota road.
In our view, this heavy repression only goes to show that there is nothing called democracy in Nigeria and that the celebration of it by the Buhari dictatorial regime is a farce. To be clear, notwithstanding its elevation of June 12 to ‘Democracy Day’, the heavy repression of Nigerians and series of attacks on democratic rights as well as anti-poor economic policies carried out or implemented by the Buhari regime in the past six years of its existence shows clearly that this regime is nothing but an undertaker of all of the dreams and aspirations which motivated Nigerian working people and youth to fight for the actualization of June 12 about 28 years ago.
In conclusion, in order to begin to arrest the continued slide of Nigeria into the abyss of dictatorship, insecurity, poverty and separatist agitation, we reiterate our call on the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to rise up to the occasion by organizing a 48-hour general strike and mass protest against attacks on democratic rights, insecurity, high cost of living, poverty, joblessness and an end to all anti poor policies.