There is apprehension over the plan by some civil society organisations and groups to stage a protest over the rising insecurity in the country on June 12, a day set aside for the celebration of democracy in Nigeria.
Already, some northerners living in the southern part of the country have gone back to their states of origin for fear of the unknown.
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But the police have warned that it would not fold its arms and watch any protest, under whatever guise, to degenerate to the #EndSARS mayhem.
One of the major organisers of the protest, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), on Friday said it had decided to suspend the protest over safety concerns and fear of hijack by politicians.
The president of the NANS, Sunday Asefon, who made this known in a statement, noted that the planned protest was aimed at decrying the insecurity in the country, especially serial abductions of students.
However, Asefon said some politicians with a “different agenda” had perfected plans to hijack the protest to “ventilate their political opinions and sentiments.”
He also said the students’ body was not associated with the secessionist campaign or the ‘Buhari-must-go’ protest slated to hold on the same day.
But the NANS, Zone D (South-West), has dissociated itself from a statement by Asefon, insisting that it would go ahead with the protest.
“As a zone, we totally dissociate ourselves from the statement of the NANS president and call on student union bodies throughout the South-West campuses to maintain the mobilisation on ground.
“June 12 day of action is sacrosanct, and we shall never, for any reason, succumb to blackmail of any sort. Our agitation is strictly a call for the federal government to abide by the social contract willingly entered into with the Nigerian people,” the statement, which was signed by the coordinator of the zone, Kowe Odunayo Amos and secretary-general, Giwa Yisa Temitope noted.
Fear, panic-buying in Lagos, Oyo
Daily Trust observed that there was palpable tension in the commercial city of Lagos and the ancient town of Ibadan, Oyo State over the planned protest.
It was observed that some residents resorted to panic-buying of food items as some shop owners expressed fear.
They said the panic buying was fuelled by the rumour that movement had been restricted by the state government from Saturday to Monday.
At Mushin, which has a long history of tension, residents started stockpiling their homes with food and other necessary items for fear of attacks.
Emeka Ononuju, a grocery shop owner, said he might not open his business place on Saturday following the EndSARS experience, where hoodlums attacked and looted shops.
“I watched the EndSARS protest from a relatively safe distance outside my shop at the other end of the street. I don’t want a repeat of what happened,” he said.
Tolu Keshinro, a resident, said prices of commodities such as onion, fish, tomato and other foodstuff went up over the panic-buying.
The Lagos State police command said it had deployed more men to patrol flash points in the metropolis to forestall any breakdown of law and order, stressing that it is not aware of any planned protest in the state.
The commissioner of police, Lagos State, CP Hakeem Odumosu, appealed to members of the public to disregard any sit-at-home order called by certain groups, which is being circulated in the social media and go about their lawful businesses.
He assured that the police and other security agencies had made necessary arrangements to maintain law and order across the state. He also disclosed that he had formed special squads to go after traffic robbers who have been terrorising innocent Lagosians and get the state rid of such miscreants.
Schools and markets closed early in Ibadan on Friday as residents expressed fear over the planned protest in the state.
Daily Trust reports that as early as 12pm, residents flooded markets in Ibadan to stock food for fear of crisis during the protest.
Many residents who spoke with our correspondent said they decided to stay indoors on Saturday because of fear of attack on residents by protesters.
“I am not going out. I have heard so many things about the June 12 protest and I don’t want to be a victim. I want to advise you to also stay at home,” a resident of Agodi, Mrs Adejoke, advised our correspondent.
Meanwhile, the police in Oyo State have asked the people to go about their normal businesses.
A statement by the police spokesman, Adewale Osifeso, noted that the commissioner of police had deployed police personnel across the state, saying they were ready to deal with troublemakers in the state.
Calm in Ogun as IGP warns against violent protest
In Ogun, our correspondent observed that the state capital and major towns were calm and devoid of tension, less than 24 hours to the planned protest.
Already, students in the state said they would not be part of the June 12 protest.
The NANS in Ogun State said the protest was being sponsored by some people, who it said were bent on disrupting the peace of the country, and urged youths to shun the protest.
Addressing journalists at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) secretariat, Oke – Ilewo, Abeokuta, the Ogun State chairman of the NANS, Damilola Simeon, said the association would never be in support of any protest that would put the country in jeopardy.
The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, who was in Abeokuta, warned against violent protest in the state. He, however, told newsmen at the state police headquarters at Eleweran, that the people’s right to protest would be respected.
He said, “June 12 is Democracy Day. We are ready to support all well-meaning Nigerians to celebrate the day, but it must be done in tandem with all the tenants of law and order.
The commissioner of police in the state, Edward Ajogun, said security agencies in the state had mobilised to ensure that the protest is not hijacked by hoodlums.
Meanwhile, Governor Dapo Abiodun has called on the people of the state to celebrate peacefully and avoid any act that could threaten the security of the state and country.
Abiodun particularly urged the people not to resort to any protest as such could be hijacked by hoodlums and enemies of democracy who harbour ulterior motives.
The governor in a statement signed by his chief press secretary, Kunle Somorin in Abeokuta on Friday, noted that June 12 was a day for the celebration of democracy, adding, “We should not do anything to tarnish the day and what it stands for.
“M.K.O Abiola, the symbol of June 12 celebration abhorred violence. He was an apostle of peace. In fact, his election had been judged as not only the freest but the most peaceful in the country.”
Security agencies embark on ‘show of force’ in Kwara, Osun
Security agencies in Kwara State embarked on a ‘show of force’ exercise in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
The police command, Department of State Security Service (DSS), the military, and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were among those that participated in the exercise, which started on Thursday and continued on Friday.
Some operatives of the security agencies were seen marching round some strategic locations in Ilorin metropolis in connection with the exercise.
Speaking on the development, the spokesman of the state police command, Ajayi Okasanmi said, “The show of force by security forces is a confidence building strategy, which also serves to warn would-be lawbreakers of the readiness of the security community in the state to prevent any breakdown of law and order, and to show the people that we have the capacity to deal with criminals in the state.”
Also, the police in Osun State, on Friday held a show of force to demonstrate its capacity to deal with lawbreakers as civil society groups planned to hold a rally in Osogbo, the state capital to commemorate June 12.
A huge number of policemen moved round the major streets in Osogbo, warning unscrupulous people not to cause trouble, while assuring law-abiding citizens that they are safe.
The chairman of the Coalition of Civil Society Groups in the state, Comrade Waheed Lawal, said that June 12 was synonymous with struggle and that the rally would be used to remind the government to address the problem of insecurity in the country.
Speaking with Daily Trust Saturday, the commissioner of police in the state, CP Wale Olokode, debunked the rumour of curfew in the state
Olokode said he had met and talked to all interest groups and stakeholders in the state to prevent a breakdown of law and order, and assured that policemen had been detailed strategically across the state.
Rivers police command reads riot act to protesters
The Rivers State commissioner of police, Eboka Friday, has warned youths in Rivers to shun any form of violence.
CP Friday made the call at a security meeting with stakeholders, youth leaders, human rights groups and civil society organisations and the media in Port Harcourt on Friday.
Friday, who disclosed that the command had received intelligence that some hoodlums planned to hijack the Democracy Day celebration to disrupt peace, warned them to steer clear of the state
He assured residents of the command’s resolve to provide adequate security during and after the celebration.
The police command in Edo State said it had not been informed of any planned protest.
“The police have not received any letter from any group about a peaceful protest. So any gathering on the road would be considered unlawful and the law will take its course,” the police public relations officer, Kontongs Bello said in a telephone interview with Daily Trust.
You’re free to move about, police tell Imo residents
The police high command in Imo State has told residents of the state that they are at liberty to move about unhindered on June 12.
In a statement in Owerri on Friday, signed by the police public relations officer, SP Bala Elkana, the command said this was sequel to the improved security situation in the state.
The statement directs nightclubs/hotel services in the state, especially in the metropolis, to open for business as their safety is guaranteed.
The statement reads, “The commissioner of police commended the good people of Imo State and night club/hotel owners for their support and enjoin them to feel free to come out at night to enjoy themselves without fear of any molestation as adequate security measures has been put in place to protect lives and property.”
UK warns citizens of violence
The United Kingdom has warned its citizens of a possible outbreak of violence in Nigeria over the planned protest. It gave the warning in its latest travel advisory published on its website on Friday.
The advisory reads, “On 12 June, protests over insecurity are planned in multiple locations, including large cities.
“You should remain vigilant, avoid demonstrations, protests or large gatherings and pay attention to local media and social media reports on protest locations.”
Arewa leaders express fear, sue for calm
Arewa leaders living in the South-West have urged their members to be vigilant over the planned protest as hoodlums might hijack it.
The Sarkin Hausawa of Egbaland in Abeokuta, Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan Hassan, said he held a meeting with elders and members of the Arewa community in his palace at Sabo, Abeokuta, where he warned them to be careful with their movement.
“I know they will not come to our community and protest and they will not force any of us to join them, so I have informed my people to be law-abiding and to be careful of movement on that day. If there is a public holiday they should all stay at home to avoid being harmed or taken advantage of,” he said.
The Sarkin Hausawa of Agege in Lagos, Alhaji Muhammadu Musa Dogonkadai urged the Arewa community in Lagos not to join the protest.
“We are not aware of any planned protest, but we always warn our people not to get involved in what they do not belong to. They should respect the law of the state and the country,” he said.
Alhaji Abubakar Aliyu Na’ibi, the secretary to Agege Arewa chiefs and special adviser to the Olu of Agege, told Daily Trust Saturday that there is nothing to be afraid of as the people have been advised to stay off any activity that is against the law or that can cause any misunderstanding with their host communities.
However, Idris Arismawy, who resides in Osun State, said the Arewa community in the state was living in fear over the frequent Oduduwa nation rally held in the state.
“Although traditional rulers and prominent leaders in Yoruba are not in support of the agitation, we have been threatened by some of the agitators,” he said.
Abiodun Alade, Eugene Agha, Christiana T. Alabi, Risikat Ramoni, Abbas Dalibi (Lagos), Jeremiah Oke (Ibadan), Peter Moses (Abeokuta), Mumini Abdulkareem (Ilorin), Victor Edozie (Port Harcourt), Usman A. Bello (Benin), Jude Aguguo Owuamanam (Owerri) & Hameed Oyegbade, Osogbo