The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has raised the alarm that Federal Government under the leadership of All Progressives Congress (APC) has started rigging the 2023 general election, following the appointment of the Personal aide of President Muhammadu Buhari as National Commissioner in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Wike raised the alarm, yesterday, while addressing thousands of youths who were demanding an end to SARS and police brutality against harmless Nigerians as well as total reform of the police at the entrance to the Government House, Port Harcourt.
He said: “How can INEC be independent when Mr President appointed his personal aide as National Commissioner in INEC. They have started the rigging process of the 2023 general election already”.
He called on all Nigerians to support the total reform of the police in the interest of the nation, stressing that the scrapping SARS by the Federal Government was the right thing to do.
The Rivers State Chief Executive said the campaign should not begin and end with the scrapping of SARS since they were also in the mainstream of the police, insisting that what was needed was total reform of the Nigeria Police Force.
He expressed disappointment that when the campaign against SARS started in Rivers State, other states felt unconcerned because it was not their people that were dying and being kidnapped, saying that today that other states were suffering the same thing that Rivers State had suffered, Nigerians were now protesting.
Noting that the blood of Rivers people was important, Wike urged citizens from other parts of the nation to feel concerned when negative issues affecting other states are brought up, emphasising that whatever affects one part of Nigeria affects all.
“Remember when there was so much kidnapping in Rivers State, I raised alarm to the Federal Government, but they said it was politics. And I told them, don’t worry, very soon, armed robbery, and kidnapping will take over the country. Today, it is all over Nigeria”.
Wike, who noted that Rivers State lost so many lives in the hands of SARS operatives, expressed disappointment that governors of other states did not feel concerned when he was shouting over the atrocities being committed by SARS in the state.
“Rivers blood is very important to me. Rivers State can’t play second fiddle in Nigeria. It is not just to end SARS, we need total reform of the police”, the governor added.
Earlier, a coalition of civil society groups in Rivers State had led #EndSARS protest march across major streets of Port Harcourt, demanding an end to police brutality, torture, extrajudicial killings, and total reform of the security outfit in the state and the nation at large.
The protesters carried various placards to register their grievances on the alleged brutality and inhuman disposition of the FSARS operatives to the citizens.
The protest, which took off at Pleasure Park, and terminated at the state Government House Gate, was held in violation of an earlier order by the Rivers State Government against any form of protest in the state.
The protesters, who were not only calling for end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), which was proscribed last Sunday, but also insisted that the government take pragmatic actions to end police brutality, extortion, extrajudicial killings and torture of citizens in detention.
Some of the protesters, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, demanded for justice for victims of police brutality and impunity.
They complained that young people who own cars, iPad, Phones and other electronic devices have suddenly become victims of police recklessness, especially SARS operatives.
The Tide reports that the security agents deployed to dispatch the protesters; were later seen providing cover and adequate protection to the protesters from Port Harcourt Pleasure Part through Aba Road to Government House Gate.
Some family members of victims of police brutality in Rivers State urged the police to end brutality against innocent citizens in the state, and described some of the actions of the police as “organised crime”.
According to them, their relatives who were shot dead and tortured never committed any crime before they were killed, just as they called for justice in the victims.
On his part, the state Chairman of Civil Society Organizations, Enefaa Georgewill, advocated the need for security vote to be directly paid to security agencies, saying that such move would enable the security agencies to discharge their responsibilities efficiently.
Our correspondents, who monitored the #EndSARS and police brutality protest, report that the protesters blocked Rivers State Government House Gate on the Azikiwe-Lagos Bus Road axis in Port Harcourt, leading to heavy traffic along the ever-busy road while forcing vehicles to take alternative routes to access their destinations.
However, The Tide reports that protest was generally peaceful, as the youths maintained a high level of orderliness throughout the period of the protest.
Chris Oluoh & Akujobi Amadi
NEC Pleads With Labour To Shelve Strike
The National Economic Council (NEC) has urged the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) not to abandon dialogue in their quest for better welfare for their members.
The Council also appealed to the unions to suspend their planned nationwide indefinite strike schedule to start on October 3.
Governor Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau State stated this while briefing State House Correspondents at the end of the NEC meeting in Abuja, yesterday.
He said that the nation was at a very critical moment in its history, adding that some States took over such labour crisis when they assumed office in May.
According to him, some of such States just resolved the crisis and will be unfair for the labour to return to another industrial action.
The Plateau State governor said that the proposed industrial action would have immense effect on the economy of both the states and the Federal Government.
He said that the NEC expressed genuine concern about the situation in the country and appealed for calm and patience among Nigerians.
“The National Economic Council (NEC) deliberated on the planned indefinite strike by the National leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to proceed on an indefinite strike on Oct. 3, 2023.
“The council noted further the implications of the planned strike on the economy and the nation and thus urge members to continue to engage with the leadership of their respective states.
“It appeals to them to suspend the action and to continue on the path of dialogue with the Federal Government. This is the appeal of the council.”
Mutfwang said that the council appreciated the concerns raised by the NLC to have those issues addressed, adding that NEC also appealed for time to address the concerns of labour.
“We also believe that President Bola Tinubu will be addressing the nation on Oct. 1, and some of the concerns of labour will be appropriately addressed in the president’s speech.
“It is therefore important to note that it’s a federation issue, so whatever happens the labour is represented in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“And NEC is appealing that discussion should continue at the state levels because there will be peculiarities as to the issues to be addressed concerning the demands of labour and therefore dialogue is the way to go.
Burkina Faso Military Junta Foils Coup Attempt, Detains Four Officers
Burkina Faso said yesterday that four officers had been detained, a day after the military government announced it had thwarted a coup attempt.
The four are suspected of involvement in a “conspiracy against state security”, military prosecutor, Ahmed Ferdinand Sountoura said in a statement yesterday.
Two others are “on the run” according to the statement.
The junta said late on Wednesday that the intelligence and security services had foiled a coup attempt the previous day.
The military government said it would seek to shed “all possible light on this plot”.
The alleged coup attempt came nearly a year to the day the junta leader, Captain Ibrahim Traore, seized power in the West African nation on September 30, 2022.
His takeover was the country’s second coup in eight months, both triggered in part by discontent at failures to stem a raging jihadist insurgency, which swept in from neighbouring Mali in 2015.
The military prosecutor has urged anyone with information that can “contribute to the manifestation of the truth to come to testify”.
Late on Tuesday, thousands of people had taken to the streets of the capital, Ouagadougou, following a call from Traore supporters to “defend” him amid rumours of a coup on social media.
Traore took to X, formerly known as Twitter, on Wednesday to stress his “determination to lead the transition safely despite the adversity and different manoeuvres to stop our inexorable march towards assumed sovereignty”.
French language news outlet, Jeune Afrique, which had recently published two articles about tensions within the military, saw its print and online operations suspended in Burkina Faso on Monday.
The Burkinabe government accused the news outlet of seeking to “discredit” the military.
Shortly after Traore’s takeover, military prosecutors in December 2022 said there had been an attempt to “destabilise state institutions”.
And earlier this month, the country’s military prosecutor said three soldiers had been arrested and charged with plotting against the ruling junta.
Investigators had received a tipoff about “soldiers and former soldiers working in intelligence” who were scouting out the homes and other locations used by key figures in the junta, including Traore.
Their goal was to “destabilise… the transition”, it said, referring to a term used to describe interim military rule before promised elections.
Burkina Faso, an impoverished landlocked country, saw Islamists sweep in from Mali in 2015.
More than 17,000 civilians, troops and police have since died, according to an NGO monitor.
Over two million people have been forced to flee their homes, creating one of Africa’s worst crises of internal displacement.
Anger within the armed forces led to a coup on January 24, 2022, toppling elected President Roch Marc Christian Kabore.
On September 30, Kabore’s nemesis, Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, was himself overthrown by the 34-year-old Traore.
Traore has promised a return to democracy with presidential elections by July 2024.
Burkina’s military leaders earlier this month signed a mutual defence pact with counterparts in Mali and Niger.
The Liptako-Gourma region, where the three countries’ borders meet, has been ravaged by jihadism in recent years.
Strike: OPS Warns FG, Labour Against Socio-Economic Disruption
The Organised Private Sector of Nigeria (OPSN) has called on the Federal Government and the organised labour to take all necessary steps to avert the disruption of socio-economic activities in the country.
This call was coming on the heels of the intended plans by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to embark on an indefinite strike, following a stalemate between the Federal Government and the organised labour on the removal of fuel subsidy and minimum wage for Nigerian workers.
The call was contained in a statement made available to newsmen by the Director General of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Segun Ajayi-Kadir, yesterday.
According to him, the position of OPSN on the impending protest/strike by the labour unions is that of deep concern, if not anxiety.
OPSN is comprised of five business membership organisations (BMOs) namely, MAN; Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA); Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA); Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) and Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI).
Ajayi-Kadir stated: “OPSN is reiterating its call on the Federal Government and the labour unions to work sedulously to avert the looming disruption of socio-economic activities in the country.
“The economic indicators are not good and simply put, the economy cannot afford a nationwide strike at this time.
“We have keenly watched the back and forth consultations between the government on the one hand and NLC and TUC on the other. It is evident that the series of consultations have not yielded positive results and the latter has resolved, in one way or the other, to go ahead with the protest/strike.
“We are worried that adequate consideration is not given to the dire situation of the economy and the devastating/disruptive impact that a nationwide strike will have on the country at this time.
“The government and labour need to understand that our economy is being de-marketed and the livelihood of the average Nigerian is being diminished by these incessant bickering.
“While recognizing the right of the labour union to pursue the welfare of its members, we continue to implore the government to employ its best endeavours to re-engage the leadership of the unions and find an amicable ground to avert the imminent disruption in business activities that will attend the protest and nationwide strike.
“We opine that adequate consideration should be given to the grim state of the economy and the possible unintended consequences of social unrest that may result from the protests.
“Meanwhile, it is important to begin to have a conversation around how the labour unions and the government can resolve their issues without jeopardizing the livelihood of the average Nigerian and truncating our business projection and activities.
“There should be some innovation around how the conversation between the government and labour will not always end up in holding the economy hostage. The unintended consequence on the fortune of the average business and people of Nigeria is unwarranted and becoming too high.
“Government should demonstrate good faith in keeping to its promises during the negotiations with labour and abstain from making promises they cannot or do not intend to keep.
“On the other hand, labour should do a realistic assessment of its demands, within the context of prevailing economic realities and possibilities, while going the extra mile to indicate how its demands could be met.”
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