BY EMMA AMAIZE, EMMAN ARUBI AND AKPOKOMA OMAFUAIRE, WARRI
THE protest against the removal of fuel subsidy expanded to Delta State, Friday, with members of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, and Committee for Defence of Human Rights, CDHR, grounding business and social activities in the twin cities of Warri and Effurun for more than four hours.
The protest is coming ahead the planned nationwide industrial action on Monday by Organized Labour.
The placard- carrying protesters were led by John Aikpokpo-Martins, Vice Chairman Warri NBA; Barrister Casely Omon-Irabor, Coordinator, Human Rights Defenders Organisation of Nigeria.
Sunny Enenuvwedia, President, CDHR; Pastor Edewor Egedegbe, President, Network for Positive Change; and Barr Benefit Orugbo, Chairman, CDHR Delta State.
They hit the streets of Warri and Effurun as early as 7.00 am in their hundreds. The take-off point was Effurun roundabout.
Some of the placards bore inscriptions; “We want fuel subsidy” “Don’t play politics with our lives in Nigeria” “Okonjo Iweala should resign” “No to IMF policies” “Jonathan has failed us” “If Jonathan cannot rule, resign.”
Okada riders, market women and office workers who closed businesses and offices cheered the protesters as they chanted solidarity songs. Members of the various civil societies also joined in the protest as they march on.
In a proactive strategy, the Area Commander, ACP Abutu Yaro , led several police officers in providing escort for the protesters so that hoodlums would not take advantage to hijack the protest.
Addressing Deltans at Jakpa junction, John Aikpkpo-Martins, Vice Chairman, NBA, Warri said, “We members of the NBA protest today to say no to removal of fuel subsidy, we are fighting against oppression, this is not military rule, Okonjo-Iweala cannot dictate for us, she should resign, fuel price should be returned to N65.”
Also adding his voice, Sunny Enenuvwedia, President, CDHR said, “The president action is hasty. It is anti people, government should cut their bogus life style spending and there will be money for development.
“Why is it only the poor that must suffer? Enough of this rubbish, we want the decision to be rescinded immediately.”
Also, Barr Casely Omon-Irabor, Coordinator, Human Rights Defenders Organisation of Nigeria said, “We must fight for the poor and our people, we feel the pain of the masses, if the President cannot rule the country, he should tell us.
“If the price is not returned to N65, we shall fight on, if NLC betrays us we shall betray them also, Okonjo-Iweala is a dictator, she should resign. The reasons given by the government is no reason at all.
“Government action is satanic, let those in government start to adjust their bogus salary, they should tighten their belt, the price must be returned.
On his part, Barr Benefit Orugbo, Chiarman, CDHR Delta State added, “The President decision is hiked taxation, it is draconian law, we say to to slavery, we will fight to the end until the decision is reversed. The Nigerian people deserve some respect; you cannot just wake up and impose hardship on the people.”
An angry Okada rider told Saturday Vanguard, “Instead of this punishment, the government should subsidize with their one month salary, they should not even earn salary because that is where Nigerian money is going.
“On Monday, we will shut down the nation; fuel price should be N10 and nothing more. The government people are thieves.”
Chief Igbinoba, Patron, CDHR, maintained, “Fuel subsidy must remain, they should cut their bogus salaries, Okonjo-Iweala earns millions in dollars, they should shelve their unnecessary travels and wastage of public funds.
“If they manage our wealth well we would not suffer, they should repair the refineries and build more and not jump to hasty decisions capable of splitting the country.
Muslims flee Warri, Effurun
In a related development, there was mass exodus of northern people from Warri and Effurun for fear of reprisal attack.
Our correspondents report that hundreds of the northerners with their little burdens on their head were seen trekking towards Sapele along the expressway hoping to catch a trailer back home.
Fierce looking military officers were strategically positioned at the Effurun roundabout and the military Check point on the outskirt where the ‘Abokis’ were taking off from.
The reason for the mass exodus is clearly not unconnected with fear of attack.