The police on Tuesday issued a warning to hoodlums as the Nigeria Labour Congress protest against the ongoing strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities holds.
As such, the police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps would deploy personnel in all protest venues nationwide to prevent a security breach or attack on the participants by thugs.
The NLC ordered workers in state capitals and Abuja to participate in the demonstration on Monday as security agencies readied to deploy their men and officers.
A top source at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, told The PUNCH on Monday: “Of course, we will deploy our men; that is standard procedure. Our duty is to ensure the safety of lives and property during any public protest or rally. We can’t stop the unions or other Nigerians from holding rallies or peaceful protests.’’
The Force Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, declined comment on the deployment but the Commissioners of Police in Ebonyi and Gombe and the police spokespersons in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Plateau, Ogun, Osun and Gombe confirmed to our correspondents that their men would be at the rally grounds.
Also, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence spokesperson, Shola Odumosu, said armed and unarmed personnel would be on the ground to protect the protesters and Nigerians.
He said, “We understand that at times like this, thugs would want to take advantage and launch their attacks. Among those we will be deploying apart from the armed and unarmed personnel are men from our intelligence department.”
The NLC had said the protest would hold at all the state capitals today while the mega rally would take place in Abuja on Wednesday to pressure the Federal Government to meet ASUU’s demands.
About 40 NLC affiliates, including aviation, bank, oil and gas, electricity and construction workers are expected to participate in the protest.
ASUU had shut all public universities and commenced its ongoing strike on February 14, 2022, after the FG failed to meet some of its demands including the release of revitalisation funds for universities, renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement, release of earned allowances for university lecturers, and deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution platform for the payment of salaries and allowances of university lecturers.
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, had last Wednesday declared the protest illegal, saying the NLC had no dispute with the government.
The next day, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, also cautioned against the demonstration, saying he received a security report from the Department of State Services that the rally might be hijacked by hoodlums.
Speaking in an interview with The PUNCH on Monday, the Head, Information and Public Affairs of the NLC, Mr Benson Upah, reiterated that the rally would hold as planned.
The Federal Capital Territory police command spokesperson, Josephine, Adeh, gave the assurance that the command would deploy men to ensure there was no breakdown of law and order.