Hundreds of peaceful protesters yesterday staged a protest against the rising incident of insecurity and poverty in the country.
The protest led by the former attorney general and commissioner for justice, Edo State, Osagie Obayuwana, under the Coalition of Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, also condemned the alleged disruption of their protest by members of the Public Works Volunteers (PUWOV) claiming that the protest was against the administration of Governor Godwin Obaseki.
Carrying placards with several inscriptions against the federal government on insecurity and poverty in the country, the protesters said they had gathered at the New Benin Market where they intended to march from to the town when men of PUWOV swooped on them, destroyed some of the banners and laptop from where they were playing music.
Speaking at the Edo State secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Obayuwana called for the disbandment of the group.
He said, “We gathered at New Benin Market, we were to move to this place, there is an agency of the state government called PUWOV they are volunteers on matters of public works, they attacked us, destroyed our banners, took away our laptop with which we are playing music and smashed, they say we are against the government of Obaseki, how can that be?”
On the reason for the protest, Obayuwana said it was a nationwide mobilisation against insecurity and mass poverty in the country. “Our coming out today is to say that the Nigerian people can no longer keep quiet, at no time in the history of our country has the insecurity situation ever been as terrible as it is today, you can’t travel from town to town, even within your village, you can’t go from your house to your farm; children in schools have been objects of kidnap.
“Seventeen governors have called on the president to speak to the nation; even this yesterday over 200 students have been kidnapped in an Islamic school in Niger State; enough is enough.
“From our own assessment of the situation, we have seen that there is a direct relationship between insecurity and poverty. Where there is no justice, there cannot be peace and we are saying that the security of life is a fundamental right that all of us are entitled to and it is also a duty that the government owes to all of us,” he noted.
Obayuwana said, “They should abolish all anti-poor policies; We demand for state police and even city police, we condemn the killing of policemen and destruction of government facilities.”
He also condemned the sack of workers by the Kaduna State government and the planned increase in the price of petroleum products.
Meanwhile, the coordinator of PUWOV, Mutari Osagie, has debunked the claim that the protest was disrupted.
He said in as much as the state government encourages everyone to protest as part of his or her legitimate right, it must be done in such a way as not to undermine security of the state.