Economic activities were yesterday paralysed in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, and Abuja, the nation’s capital, following threats of protest and violence by certain groups as well as the confusion created by security agencies while trying to quell the pockets of protests.
LEADERSHIP Sunday observed that the ever busy streets, shopping malls and markets in Lagos were deserted as residents remained indoors for safety of their lives
Yoruba nation activist, Sunday Igboho, had declared June 12 a day of protest and told people in the South West to stockpile food in readiness for the day.
Despite assurance by the police that they would be provided security and that people should go about their business activities, many Lagosians stayed at home yesterday.
In Abule Egba area, the popular Ile-Epo Market was deserted as people stayed away for fear of being attacked by hoodlums.
Also, the popular second hand clothes hub, Katangowa Market, in Abule Egba was shut, as traders stayed at home for fear of being attacked.
In Berger area of Lagos, markets and shops were shut, while people stayed at home, even as Ikeja markets and shops were also closed.
At Fagba area in Ifako Ijaiye, shops along the roadside were under lock and key, even as markets in many parts of Lagos, such as Ketu, Mile 12, among others, were closed.
The roads in Lagos were free and the usual gridlock disappeared yesterday, as many motorists stayed away from the roads for fear of being attacked.
In some parts of the state, policemen were seen patrolling to ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order.
Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) were stationed in some parts of the state to quell any form of violence.
Violence was only recorded in the Ojota area of the state where police fired teargas at hoodlums who wanted to hijack a peaceful protest at MKO Abiola Garden.
Protesters who had converged on the Ojota area of Lagos State were dispersed with sporadic gunshots and tear gas, thereby causing confusion in the area.
LEADERSHIP Sunday observed that economic activities were paralysed in Computer Village, a technology marketplace for sales of computers, phones and accessories located in Ikeja area of the state.
Onochie Philip, a trader in the Computer Village, who spoke with LEADERSHIP Sunday said, “We have learnt our lessons from the #EndSARS protest. We lost a lot to that protest. It started as a peaceful protest but it was hijacked by hoodlums and we are still licking our wounds sustained from the protest. Today June 12, they are protesting again and nobody knows what will happen next. So we have to lock our shops.”
The protesters led by Comrade Omoyele Soyore’s group were said to have thronged the streets and gathered at the Gani Fawehinmi Park, also known as Freedom Park, in Ojota to register their grievances against the government they claimed has not done enough to secure lives and properties of the people.
It was gathered that the genuine protesters who were mainly rights activists were arranging for the protest when some hoodlums and hooligans infiltrated the gathering and refused to take instruction from the conveners.
They demanded the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari, saying he must leave office as soon as possible or face mass action.
They claimed that the president has failed in addressing the challenges in the country, including insecurity.
One of the protesters who identified himself as Andrew Alabi said, “We came out for a peaceful protest. The police were civil in handling the situation till some miscreants came in and the atmosphere was charged and the police moved in.’’
The commander of Lagos State-controlled Rapid Response Squad, Yinka Egbeyemi, a chief superintendent of Police, who mobilized his men to Freedom Park, appealed to the June 12 protesters in Ojota to be peaceful in their conduct and not to allow hoodlums to hijack their cause.
Egbeyemi urged them not to allow miscreants to hijack the protest to unleash mayhem.
In Abuja, the police yesterday shot teargas to disperse protesters in the Gudu area as the country marked Democracy Day.
The protesters had earlier blocked the Gudu Junction to protest the state of the nation, even as similar protests were held across the country.
The Unity Fountain in Abuja, a popular venue for protests in the nation’s capital, was devoid of protesters as of 8:15am, while at the Millennium Park, opposite the fountain, a few individuals wearing branded T-shirts with the inscription ‘I Stand With Buhari’ had pooled together.
They were said to have embarked on a road walk to mark Democracy Day.
LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that the protesters in Gudu had turned out in their numbers carrying placards and banners with various inscriptions.
Among their demands was the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari.
They said the president has failed in addressing the challenges in the country, including that of insecurity.
Among those who led the protest were social activists, Omoyele Sowore and Deji Adeyanju.
But as the protesters continued their protest, heavily armed policemen stormed the scene and began shooting tear gas into the air, dispersing the protest.
Youths in Akure, the Ondo State capital, yesterday joined the ongoing June 12 protest.
The youths who peacefully conducted themselves, trooped out in their large numbers to protest against the Federal Government alleged support for open grazing across the country.
The protesters who converged at the popular Post Office junction in the state capital, are currently walking through the popular Oja Oba, Oba Adesida Road, displaying placards with various inscriptions such as “Kick Against Open Grazing”, “Stop the Killings”, “Constitutional review is a scam”,” Buhari must go” among others.
The protest is coming few hours after some youths in the state capital distanced themselves from the protest after an appeal by the paramount ruler and the Deji of Akure Kingdom, Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi.
Oba Aladetoyinbo while addressing youth leaders from all the quarters in his domain, said, “I am confident that no Akure youths or non-indigenes resident in Akure will ever think of doing anything inimical to the peace of Akure, Ondo state and Nigeria by extension.”
In Ekiti State, the Democracy Day celebration was without its usual fanfare, as every activity in Ado Ekiti, the state capital, was at its lowest ebb.
Major roads in the town were in the early hours of the day deserted with few people and vehicles seen moving around.
Most business owners also closed shops on the day that is always characterised with business activities.
This may not be unconnected with the rumoured planned protest by various groups to register their displeasure at the present state of the nation.
From Ajilosun to Ijigbo, Mugbagba, old garage, Okeyinmi, Okesa to Fajuyi park, it was observed that only few taxis plying the roads with commercial motorcyclists having field day.
The popular Fayose marker was closed for fear of being looted, while King’s market and Bisi market had few sellers and buyers transacting business.
Police and operatives of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were stationed in strategic places like Ijigbo junction and Old Garage to maintain law and order.
In Rivers State, low turnout of youths and members of civil society organisations yesterday marred the June 12 nationwide protest organised by the ‘Take It Back’ Movement in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
LEADERSHIP Sunday observed that the low turnout may not be unconnected with the outcome of last Thursday’s stakeholders’ meeting between the commissioner of Police, Eboka Friday and leaders of youth groups and civil society organisations in the state.
Friday had advised members of the two groups to shun the June 12 protest, pointing out that intelligence report at the disposal of the Rivers State Police Command showed that the protest would be hijacked by hoodlums.
It was also observed that as early as 5:30am, security operatives made up of men of the Nigerian Police and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) took over strategic positions in parts of Port Harcourt, including Government House and Isaac Boro Park.
However, some protesters, numbering about 20 gathered in-front of the Pleasure Park, along Aba Road in Port Harcourt, carrying placards with the following inscriptions: “Buhari Must Resign”, “Buhari Must Go”, “Say No To Police Brutality In Nigeria” “End to Kidnapping, Abduction and Insecurity In Nigeria”, among others.
Addressing newsmen, one of the protesters, Enefaa Georgewill, advised President Muhammadu Buhari to resign from office, saying that the president has failed to provide security for Nigerians.
Georgewill said, “On a daily basis, people are being killed by gang war leaders, yet we have a President who has not done anything. We are saying since he cannot provide security for Nigerians, Buhari must go.”
Meanwhile, in Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, the protesters failed to converge at the August 27 stadium.
The protesters were expected to converge on the stadium before taking to the streets as part of a nationwide protest tagged ‘Buhari must go’.
But as of 9am on Saturday, no single protester had arrived at the venue, just as security personnel were stationed at the venue.
FCT Youths Stage Solidarity March For PMB
Meanwhile, youths in the FCT under the auspices of APC Grassroots Forum yesterday staged a solidarity march to mark the Democracy Day celebration in support of the President Muhammad Buhari.
The youths who gathered at the Unity Fountain in Abuja marched round major roads in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), carrying placards with the following inscriptions: “Nigeria belongs to all of us”, “our democracy is getting better, we must protect it,” “Talk to your Representatives, mob, protest not the way forward,” “Nigeria wants democracy, Nigeria wants peace,” among others.
Comrade Yunusa Yusuf, coordinator and convener of the group, told journalists that they decided to stage the march in order to express their total support for the administration of President Buhari, who they believe has the interest of all Nigerians at heart.
Yusuf said the youths can boldly and proudly say that President Buhari has proven that he cares for all Nigerians more than any leader since Nigeria’s return to democracy.
He stated: “He (Buhari) is no doubt a democratic icon. It was a case of a deep calling unto the deep when he decided to honour the ideals of democracy which some of our finest minds died for. Most importantly, setting aside June 12 as Democracy Day is a testament to President Buhari’s resolve to entrench a vital and significant day in our democratic growth as an inherent aspect of our national history.
“In the course of our democracy journey, one of the major concerns of Nigerians has been the issue of transportation, but when we look at that issue now, this administration has made it to gradually become a thing of the past. We are aware that the government is presently growing the stock and quality of Nigerian road, rail, air and water transport infrastructure.
“Also, we can attest to the fact that the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund projects are also progressing very well, including the 11.9 km Second Niger Bridge, 120 km Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, and 375 km Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria – Kano Expressway.
“The federal government under President Buhari is actively extending and upgrading Nigeria’s railway networks, as well as airports which are being raised to international standard with the provision of necessary equipment, to guarantee world class safety standard”.
They also commended the government for the continued support given to the Agricultural sector, saying it has been the key to diversification of the country’s economy through schemes such as the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme and the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative programme.
“We cannot deny the fact that the work of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) has resulted in Nigeria moving up 39 places on the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ ranking since 2015 and Nigeria is now rated as one of the top ten reforming countries. We are confident that the on-going ease of doing business reforms would result in further improvement of this rating,” Yusuf added.
Nigeria’s Democracy Has Come Of Age – Gombe Governor
Meanwhile, Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State has praised Nigerians for resolving to maintain democracy as the means of governance in the country, saying 22 years of interrupted democratic rule have proven naysayers wrong.
In a goodwill message to the people of the state on the occasion of the 2021 Democracy Day, the Governor expressed appreciation that Nigeria’s “democratic maturity has shattered the myths about African democracy being under the grip of one single leader or political party.”
He noted that as the largest country in the world, Nigeria will continue to hold the torch of nation building, democratic pluralism and political stability in Africa and the world at large.
The governor stated: “After 22 years of uninterrupted democracy, I make bold to say that Nigeria’s democracy has come of age. We have witnessed successful transitions of power from one administration to the next, and from one political party to another.
“No doubt we have had our fair share of challenges. But if the past 22 years have taught us anything, it is that as Nigerians, we have accepted democracy as the political consensus on how we want our country to be governed.
“Whenever we are faced with challenges, we respond with the tenacity and maturity far above what the world expects from us. Oftentimes the world has written us off, and oftentimes we bounced back with greater strength and unity.”
On the progress of democratic governance in Gombe State, the governor said, “We are living witnesses to how development and progress can be delivered through a robust democratic process.”
He noted that from a small rural community, Gombe has grown to “emerge on the pinnacle of Nigeria’s development as the fastest developing state in the country.”
Governor Yahaya attributed the growth of the state to “two-decades of hard-work, stability and progress that were made possible by the undying aspiration of our people for good governance and development.”
The Governor said, “During our two-year anniversary two weeks ago, we showcased our tremendous achievements across all facets of social and economic development, from road infrastructure to agriculture, education, health, water resources and environment, commerce and industry, rural and urban development, civil service reforms, youth and women empowerment among others.
“Our vision is to transform Gombe into a prosperous, fiscally responsible, politically inclusive and developmentally sustainable State, one that will serve as a model for the rest of the country bcause, we strongly believe that only through economic development, peace building and the provision of basic services as well as job and wealth opportunities for our people that we can deliver real dividends of democracy to our people.”