February 20, 2012

Akele, others blame arrest, tear-gassing of JAF members on Lagos govt

By  Abdulwahab Abdulah & BARTHOLOMEW MADUKWE
LAGOS — Labour activist, Mr Ayodele Akele, has blamed the Lagos State Government for the tear gassing and arrest of Joint Action Front, JAF, members on Saturday, stressing that it was clear that Governor Babatunde Fashola’s administration funded the Rapid Response Squad, RRS, used to repress them and not President Goodluck Jonathan.

He said it was the same way the RSS was used to repress the Lekki Toll peaceful protesters on an instruction from the Governor’s office and not President Jonathan.

Akele in a statement, yesterday, in reaction to the arrest and manhandling of pro-democracy activists in Lagos over their attempt to hold a procession in honour of those killed during the nationwide strike called by organised labour agaionst government removal of fuel subsidy, said: “The Fashola’s Lagos State government funded RRS/police supposedly under the Lagos State Police Command used to brutalise us on Saturday.”

Meanwhile, former deputy head of late Fawehinmi’s chambers, Mr Adindu Ugwuzor, and the executive director, Dr Lakin Akintola, have also condemned the police’s action, describing same as “barbaric and uncalled for.”

Adindu said: “The arrest and detention of the activists, especially Mrs Ganiyat Fawehinmi and her son, Mohammed, was barbaric and uncalled for in a civilian democracy like ours. These Nigerians were entitled to embark on procession to protest the violation of their fundamental human rights and the killings of Nigerians, who protested the increment in price of fuel last January.”

Akintola, on his part,  said: “It very unfortunate  that this is happening. This is one of those things that should not be happening in a democracy. It is against the freedom of expression and freedom of association guaranteed by the constitution.”

I am surprised that instead of the police to protect these people, they are arresting them, especially when I gathered that same police had earlier given its approval to the procession.”

Akele lamented that the wife of late legal luminary, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Mrs Ganiat Fawehinmi, alongside his son, Mr Mohammed Fawehinmi, were tortured with direct teargas and at very close range, saying: “You need to see how some of us including, Mrs  Fawehinmi and his son Mohammed, were tortured with direct teargas and at very close range.

“Ironically and against the recent directive of the new Inspector General of Police, the peaceful protest was stopped by an illegal barricade mounted with three RRS vehicles, Fashola’s RRS and not President Jonathan, blocking their way at Onigbongbo, Maryland, Lagos.

“After a protracted altercation between us and the RRS men, we were heavily repressed, teargassed, brutalised, arrested, tortured and bundled to Anti-Robbery Section of the Lagos Police Headquarters at Ikeja.”