Abuja, the nation’s capital, Monday lost all its bustle and shine as the city remained closed for business for most part of the first day of the nationwide protest by the organised labour and civil society movements over the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government. The protest march spearheaded by the labour unions was concentrated around some major streets in the city centre. Hordes of almajiris (young Islamic pupils) bearing clubs, cudgels, pieces of metal and other lethal objects dominated the streets of Gwagwalada in the afternoon Monday. Their ages reportedly ranged from seven to 17. With the marked absence of police officers, the almajiris and other street ruffians asked some people to recite Islamic verses before being let off, even as they chanted that they did not want President Goodluck Jonathan.
Strike action by aviation labour unions Monday paralysed domestic air operations at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, as the new domestic terminal, known as MMA2, was under lock and key from both the entrance and exit gates. Also the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of the Lagos airport, where Arik Air operates its domestic flights, was also deserted as there was minimal human movement at the area, but the airline was able to operate its 6.30 am flight to Abuja before the terminal was closed.
No gun shot was fired, no tear-gas canister was released, no arrest was made and no injury whatsoever was recorded but there was graveyard calm Monday in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital with the ever busy Lokoja – Abuja road deserted when protesters held the state to ransom for about five hours.
As the protest against the removal of fuel subsidy spreads across the country, the Monarch of Owa Kingdom, His Royal Majesty, Obi, Dr. Efeizomor II, Obi of Owa, has called for calm and understanding between the organised labour and government.
The nation-wide mass action called by organised labour and civil society group went smoothly in Edo State as they matched round the major streets of Benin City and towns asking the federal government to revert back to the former pump price of N65.00 per litre.
Sokoto State was completely shut down by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Sokoto chapter, over the removal of fuel subsidy by the federal government. Markets, shops and all public and private offices were completely closed. The streets were also deserted in the Sokoto metropolis, as thousands of youths riding on motor bikes were seen chanting anti subsidy slogans, urging President Goodluck Jonathan to rescind the decision.
A sparse crowd of demonstrators thronged the city of Port Harcourt amidst tight security protesting the fuel subsidy removal the federal government Monday. Marching from Isaac Boro Park along Aba Road as early as 7.00 am, the protesters defied the presence of security operatives, including men of the State Security Service (SSS), stern looking policemen and soldiers from the 2 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt to carry out their march.
All was quiet in all fronts in Bayelsa State (President Jonathan’s home state). People went about their duties as if the strike was never called. Civil societies groups that called for a protest action quietly called off their action as they were told by labour unions in the state that they did not want to antagonise President Goodluck Jonathan. The unions subsequently told the people to observe the strike from the home and not come to the streets to protest.
One person was feared dead in Kano, and about 31 protesters were said to have sustained gunshot injuries and are now receiving treatment at various hospitals in the city. The gunshots were allegedly fired on protesters by anti-riot policemen manning the Kano Government House.
Social and economic activities were practically grounded to a halt in Delta State following the people’s compliance with the stay-at-home directive by organised labour in Nigeria.