June 12: Protesters defy heavy security presence, unite in Lagos, Osun, Ibadan against economic hardship, others

…Say legacy of MKO Abiola unfulfilled 31 years after

…As Police arrest five ‘Revolution Now’ protesters in Ibadan

By Sodiq Adelakun

On Democracy Day, June 12, Nigerians from various cities, including Lagos State, Osun State, and Oyo, took to the streets in protest against the nation’s economic challenges, escalating insecurity, and governance deficiencies.

Led by civil society groups and social activists, demonstrators demanded improved living standards, fair wages, and an end to police brutality.

Despite a heavy security presence and reported arrests in some areas, protesters persisted in their calls for change, invoking the spirit of the historic June 12 struggle for democracy and accountable governance.

In Lagos, protesters gathered at the Ikeja Underbridge, chanting solidarity songs and brandishing placards with messages such as ‘President Tinubu, let the poor breathe’ and ‘Payment of living wage to all Nigerian workers now.’ Notable civil society groups, including the Take It Back Movement, the Education Rights Campaign, and the Coalition for Revolution, played pivotal roles in organising the demonstrations.

The Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Osogbo, the capital of Osun State, joined by social activists, took to the streets to voice their grievances against the economic hardships stemming from the Federal Government’s policies.

Protesters directed their calls for action to President Bola Tinubu, urging him to address the pervasive issues of hunger, hardship, and insecurity facing the nation.

…Say legacy of MKO Abiola unfulfilled 31 years after

They emphasised that despite 31 years passing since the martyrdom of June 12 icon, late MKO Abiola, whose sacrifice was pivotal in Nigeria’s democratic journey, the promises of basic amenities and prosperity for citizens remain unfulfilled.

During the peaceful demonstration, the chairman of Osun Civil Societies Coalition, Waheed Lawal, stressed that Abiola’s electoral victory symbolised a lost opportunity to steer Nigeria towards comprehensive development and urged leaders to prioritise responsive governance.

According to him, “It is unfortunate that the manifesto of the winner of June 12, 1993 presidential election, the late MKO Abiola, which included the provision of basic amenities and mass prosperity, is still elusive 31 years after.

“Besides, the lessons and gains of June 12 appear to be missing in the corridors of power at all levels.

“Nigeria’s leaders appear to have learnt nothing and forgotten everything. Unfortunately, decades of bad governance by the unpatriotic and self-centred elite, military and civilian leadership that cut across all tribes and religions have produced exploitation, oppression, poverty, misery, injustice, insecurity, banditry, violence and death as being experienced by the masses across the country.”

Mr Lawal lamented that Nigerians were going through worsening economic hardship that is creating more poverty and deprivation.

He stressed that the administration of Mr Tinubu, through its World Bank and IMF teleguided economic policies, has continued to unleash hardship on Nigerians.

“The removal of subsidy, increment in electricity tariff and devaluation of Naira have cast a shadow over the economic stability of Nigeria.

“This is hampering productivity and killing Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMSE), taking away the purchasing power of the Nigerian people, creating hunger and starvation, while prices of foodstuffs and essential commodities are skyrocketing.”

In his remark, the chairman of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Osun State chapter, Emmanuel Olowu, called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in agriculture, stressing that without such a step, the nation’s economy will remain in the doldrum.

…Police arrest five ‘Revolution Now’ protesters in Ibadan

Meanwhile, five persons wearing ‘Revolution Now’ jackets were apprehended by officers of the Nigeria Police Force at Mokola Roundabout.

The arrests occurred during a peaceful demonstration organised by ‘Take It Back Movements’ in collaboration with Concerned Nigerians, an advocacy and human rights group.

The protesters had convened to voice their grievances on various issues plaguing the nation, including economic hardship, insecurity, police brutality, and attacks on press freedom.

Clad in black T-shirts and jeans, the demonstrators displayed banners and placards bearing messages such as ‘We are hungry’ and ‘Justice cannot be silenced.’

At around 9:30 a.m., police operatives, led by Oyo State Commissioner of Police, Adebola Hamzat, intervened and forcibly detained the protesters into a white Hilux bus.

Despite the heavy police presence, including Hilux buses and an armoured tank, the arrests were made amidst the ongoing protest.

Commissioner Hamzat, visibly displeased, chastised his officers for allowing the protest to continue despite prior warnings and public statements against such gatherings.

The arrests come amid anticipation of potential mass protests across Ibadan on June 12, prompting an increased deployment of police personnel throughout the city.

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