Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)

For struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

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Lagos 9th October, 2004

Note: Early on Saturday, October 9th, two days before a four day general strike was due to begin, Adams Oshiomhole, president of the Nigerian Labour Congress was arrested in Abuja. The day before Femi Aborisade, NCP general secretary, had been arrested. While both were subsequently released the arrest of Adams Oshiomhole particularly was, as the DSM statement below explains, part of a government campaigned aimed at intimidating both the NLC leaders and the working masses just before action began against the latest rise in domestic fuel prices.

 

DSM PRESS STATEMENT

THE ILLEGAL ARREST OF NLC PRESIDENT: A CALL FOR MASS ACTION

True to the highhandedness and dictatorial tendencies of this government, General Olusegun Obasanjo sent out his agents, this morning, to arrest the president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Adams Oshiomhole, in a desperate attempt to scuttle the NLC and civil society called general strike and nationwide mass protest scheduled to commence on Monday 11th October, 2004 against the recent increment in prices of petroleum products. Adams Oshiomhole, who was arrested at about 8.35am at the Abuja Airport in the presence of the leadership of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), including its National Chairman, Chief Audu Ogbeh, was physically assaulted and brutalised before being taken away from the airport to an unknown destination. Also arrested yesterday by the State Security Services (SSS) is the National General Secretary of the National Conscience Party (NCP), Mr. Femi Aborisade.

 

We condemn in its totality the arrest of the NLC president, as he has not committed any offence known to the law of the land that could have warranted his arrest. His arrest clearly violates provisions of the 1999 constitution, which guarantees freedom of association and right to hold opposing view against those in government. We also condemn the arrest of the National General Secretary of the National Conscience Party (NCP), Mr. Femi Aborisade by the men of the State Security Services yesterday in Abuja. Though, the State Security Services claimed he was invited for a chat, he has not returned home since yesterday and his whereabouts are unknown.

 

What Adams Oshiomhole has been doing in the recent past and immediately after the latest inhuman and senseless increment of the petroleum products was simply to provide the leadership for the working people and other oppressed layers of the society whose standard of living are being adversely affected by the anti-peoples’ policies of Obasanjo led government, particularly the so-called deregulation of oil sector. Therefore, his arrest is illegal, unconstitutional, uncalled for and as such, unacceptable. We therefore call for his immediate and unconditional release. However, if he has committed any offence, he should be immediately charged to the competent court of law.

 

We have no doubt that the arrest of Adams Oshiomhole was one of the tactics being employed by the Obasanjo’s government to frustrate the commencement of general strike and mass protest from Monday, 11th October, 2004. It is also an attempt to divert the attention from the real issue at stake. It will be a mistake on the part of the Obasanjo’s government to think that we will abandon our demand for the immediate reversal to old prices of all petroleum products for the release of Oshiomhole. While calling for the release of Oshiomhole from the illegal detention, we remain steadfast in our demand for the immediate reversal to old prices of all petroleum products.

 

Finally, we call on all Nigerians particularly working people, students, youths, market women and other oppressed layers in the society not to be intimidated by the latest antics of President Obasanjo by joining the strike and mass protest from Monday. Let us, collectively by our action, tell Obasanjo that this country belongs to all of us and therefore we cannot continue to remain in poverty in the midst of plenty. We are bold to say that the arrest of Oshiomhole or any other person cannot and will not stop us from protesting against the pro-rich and anti-poor government of President Obasanjo. Indeed, the arrest will serve as a rallying point for mass action.

 

OUR DEMANDS

 

Immediate and unconditional release of NLC President, Adams Oshiomhole and Femi Aborisade from illegal detention.

Total reversal of the present hike in the prices of petroleum products to the old prices.

Public ownership of the commanding heights of economy with democratic management and control of the working people in order to be able to generate adequate resources to carry out pro-masses programmes, purge corruption and end looting.

Immediate resignation of Obasanjo’s regime as well as that of other pro-capitalist ruling governments at the state and local levels.

For a workers’ and peasants’ governments that will start the socialist transformation of Nigeria.

 

SEGUN SANGO

DSM General Secretary