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Protesters Battle Police, Workers

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Friday, May 20th, 2016
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The clash occurred near Pastoral Centre along the Abakaliki-Enugu Expressway

The local Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Chairman, Comrade Ikechukwu Nwafor, and about 15 others were taken in a white police Hillux van by four policemen to the Police Headquarters in Abakaliki.

The police reportedly claimed that the workers did not obtain clearance before starting the protest march.

But Comrade Nwafor denied the claim, saying: “We were on a peaceful demonstration against the increase in fuel pump price and electricity tariff when the police attacked us. We gave them a letter, I was calling the Commissioner and she didn’t pick my calls and we have evidence to that”

In Lagos: The protesters failed to carry out its plan of grounding flight operations at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA),

Vice-President of NLC Adelegan Samuel  had on Wednesday vowed that no flight would land or take off from the airport if the Federal Government refused to revert the pump price of petrol to N87 per litre.

However, a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent who monitored the situation reports that flight operations went on smoothly at both the international and domestic wings of the airport

Workers of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), were at their respective offices and duty posts, working.

However, security was tight within the airport environment as police officers were deployed around strategic locations by the Commissioner of Police, Lagos Airport Command, Mrs Victory Menta.

Mr Olayinka Abioye, General Secretary, National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), told NAN that the union had not suspended the strike but decided not to disrupt flight operations at the airport.

Abioye said: “We have created a window of opportunity for our entrepreneurs to also enjoy the benefit of our presence at the airport, so that we don’t create more problems for air travelers.

“We realise that if we completely shut down the airport, there will very serious problems for people in the country.

“Since transporters are working, there is no reason for us to deny people from using the airport.”

Also, the spokesperson of the Lagos Airport Police Command, Mr Joseph Alabi, enjoined travellers and other airport users to go about their lawful duties, without any fear of harassment.

“As far as the Lagos airport is concerned, there is no problem. Our officers are on ground and there is no cause for alarm,” Alabi added.

In Ibadan: The workers who resumed for work at the Federal Secretariat and Ministry of Environment were chased out to join the protest.

The protesters left the NLC secretariat and proceeded through Ikolaba, Secretariat, Customs Osuntokun, Awolowo and then at Bodija market.

They marched peacefully and distributed leaflets on why more people should join.

Zonal Coordinator of Ibadan Zone of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Professor Segun Ajiboye described the increment in the pump price of petrol by as a ‘terror policy’.

Ajiboye while addressing a crowd of anti-subsidy removal protesters in front of the University of Ibadan (UI) gate said the pain being unleashed on Nigerians in the past one year by the federal government had become unbearable and required a mass anti-terror movement to check it.

The government has no control over the black market but asked people to go to black market (to source foreign exchange). This is is clueless.”

NLC chairman Waheed Olojede asked Nigerians not to see the strike as a labour struggle alone but a joint movement to check anti-masses policies

Worried by the apathy toward its strike the Oyo NLC gave the NURTW in the state till today to join the protest m.

Olojede, who gave the ultimatum, urged traders to support it.

The strike has recorded low compliance as private schools, business enterprises , filling stations, markets as well as banks had remained open while there was free vehicular movement

In Yola, the Adamawa State capital, following the closure of the two gates leading into the State Government Secretariat, by NLC officials enforcing the strike, some workers resorted to using foot paths to gain access to their offices.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that many workers, particularly car owners, parked outside the closed gates and used the foot paths in entering the secretariat.

Some of the workers, who spoke to NAN, lamented the closure of the gates, adding that NLC should not insist on enforcing compliance.

“It is not proper the way the NLC decided to be going round closing gates to prevent workers from entering their office premises.

“They should embark on public enlightenment to woo workers to join the strike action instead of resorting to closing gates to prevent staff who are entering, “ a worker, who simply identified himself as Bappa, said.

A NAN correspondent, who monitored the second day of the strike action, reports that the Federal Secretariat, banks, markets and motor parks were all open.

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