LAGOS AFP) – The youth leader of National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN has said that armed policemen, Friday, aborted his group’s planned protest in Abuja over the government proposal to remove fuel subsidies, which would result in higher pump prices.
The NYC had planned a National Rally and 24-hour hunger strike against the federal government’s planned removal of fuel subsidy, in Abuja.
“We got to the venue of the protest and we found it already cordoned off by armed policemen… They later brought in their dogs and chased us out of the place,” the head of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, Wale Ajani, said.
“They said they got an information that there was a bomb threat and our presence at the venue constituted a security risk,” he told AFP.
The police spokesman in Abuja, Moshood Jimoh, denied his men deliberately took action to stop the group’s one-day sit-in protest.
“We did not stop the protest. We are just on operation stop-and-search to prevent crimes in Abuja. We started that last week. We never targeted any group specifically today,” Jimoh told AFP.
An AFP reporter said that he saw at least two police armoured personnel carriers and an unusual massive deployment of policemen around the venue of the planned protest.
Ajani said that the secret police, known as the Department of State Services, Wednesday detained him for several hours during which he was urged to cancel the protest against scrapping the subsidy.
Many Nigerians, most of whom earn less than $2 per day, view it as the only benefit they receive from their country’s oil wealth, much of which has been squandered through corruption and mismanagement.
Government officials and many economists argue that the billions of dollars being spent on the subsidy each year go to a corrupt few, and that money saved could be used for infrastructure development or other important programmes.