By  BARTHOLOMEW MADUKWE

A Human Rights lawyer, Mr. Richard Akinnola, the civil rights activist was one of those that protested against the subsidy removal in Lagos. For him, there may have been other reasons behind the suspension of  the strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, after meeting with the Federal Government.

“They (NLC & TUC) said that the government is trust worthy. They claimed that if the government reverts from the N141 to N65, the whole government will collapse. So, it is crystal clear that they are lying…. I think they are just doing the wrong thing. So this N97 per litre fuel price is unacceptable,” he stressed.

In an interview with Saturday Vanguard, Akinnola noted that the leaders have tried their best which did not match the people’s expectation despite the talks in the reduction of the fuel pump price.  “I believe the struggle was to get the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to probe the subsidy stuff, though that may be superficial.

“Forget all this one that they are saying EFCC should go and investigate the fuel import. The audit report of the NNPC has been there since. If not that Nigerians cried out through the protest, why didn’t they act on the NNPC audit report since?”

Akinnola...

He queried the difference between the N141/litre and the N97/litre that was said to have been the price agreed by all parties in the meeting with the Federal Government, and held that NLC should have stuck to the N65 because there is fraud in the system.

Akinnola said he was yet to speak with NLC and TUC on how they got to the position of  N97 per litre, instead of N65 that it was sold before January 1, 2012.

In his words: “I want to give the NLC and TUC the benefit of doubt, until I get in touch with them to find out what actually happened. First, I will need to get in touch with NLC to know how they got to that position (N97/litre). It will be premature for me to say anything against the NLC or TUC without hearing from them. But in their press conference, we were told that the N97 was not by negotiation.”

Akinnola condemned in its entirety the deployment of armed troops to checkpoints in Lagos  to confront unarmed civilians, noting that the soldiers should be more engaged in fighting those who go about killing innocent people in the North (Boko Haram) and not facing unarmed Lagosians with armoured tanks on the streets.

He stressed that such would send a wrong signal to the soldiers which may lead to the military coming back to power, noting that the pains of the past military regimes in the country are still being treated by innocent citizens.

In his words: “This is giving soldiers a wrong idea that only they can handle this country, which is very wrong because we don’t want military. We have suffered so much before we have democracy, so we don’t want military again. But President Goodluck Jonathan is bringing in military- indirectly.

“For a government that cannot use the same soldiers to deal with Boko Haram but is now sending soldiers against unarmed Nigerians who are peacefully protesting, it is a big shame. The soldiers are supposed to have been busy tackling the Boko Haram and not unarmed Nigerians. I condemn it in its entirety because it shows failure of governance.”

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