Police deploy anti-riot squad as NLC holds protests today



The Nigeria Police Force has deployed anti-riot operatives in strategic locations ahead of today’s nationwide protest declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress over the economic crunch in the country.

The force spokesman, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, explained on Monday that policemen had been placed on red alert.

The Presidency and the police authorities had on Sunday warned the NLC against carrying out the protest which was thumbed down by the Trade Union Congress and 65 civil society groups.

But the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, insisted that the demonstration would go on as planned, hinging his decision on the economic situation and hardship in the country.

The NLC is protesting the government’s alleged failure to implement agreements reached between both parties on October 2, 2023, following the removal of the fuel subsidy.

The decision followed the conclusion of a 14-day ultimatum issued to the Federal Government to implement measures against the widespread hardship in the country

However, Adejobi in a statement said the Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, had directed the state commissioners of police to protect the protesters.

He expressed the police’s commitment to ensuring the protection of citizens’ rights and freedom to engage in protest.

Adejobi, in the statement, said while the police recognised the importance of the protest, the agency remained vigilant to prevent any attempts to hijack the protests, noting that officers would also curb any attempts to create unrest, as the police would not tolerate a breakdown of law and order.

He stated, “While recognising the importance of peaceful protest, the Nigeria Police Force remains vigilant against any attempts to hijack such protests by individuals or groups of persons with sinister intents.

“Emphatically, the force, therefore, is fully prepared to respond swiftly and decisively to any unlawful activities or acts of violence that may threaten peace, public safety, and security in the event of such.

“It is vital to state that the police have spread their tentacles nationwide to curb any attempt by some individuals who might want to leverage the nationwide protests to create brouhaha, and such will be met with approved legal and proportional force as the police will not allow the wanton breakdown of law and order, loss of lives and property like we had experienced, in some instances, in the past, in some parts of the country,’’ Adejobi stated.

The statement read in part, “The Nigeria Police Force on the heels of the proposed nationwide protest by the Nigeria Labour Congress hereby affirms the fundamental right of all citizens of the country to engage in peaceful protest in line with extant laws.

“As such, the NPF reiterates its commitment to ensuring the rights and freedom of protesters are protected.

“In line with its lawful duty to maintain law and order, the Nigeria Police Force has deployed personnel nationwide and placed them on red alert to monitor the planned protest.

“All commissioners of police and their respective supervising officers have been briefed and instructed to coordinate the officers on the ground in ensuring the safety and security of all participants if the protests hold as planned.’’

In a move to ensure a peaceful rally, the Delta, Benue, and Niger State police commands have met with labour leaders to strategise for a hitch-free protest.

The Commissioner of Police in Delta State, Abaniwonda Olufemi, has ordered massive deployment of personnel across the state to ensure adequate security and safety during the protest in line with the IG’s directive.

A statement on Monday by the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Bright Edafe, said the CP warned all intending protesters that “anyone found wanting will be immediately arrested and prosecuted in accordance with the law.”

The statement explained that the CP, during an interaction with area commanders, tactical commanders and divisional police officers directed them to put in place measures to forestall a breakdown of law and order.

It read, “As part of measures to ensure that the protest is seamless, the CP had stakeholders meeting with the leaders of NLC, TUC and IPMAN on 22nd February 2024, and discussed measures to achieve a peaceful protest.

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