In anticipation of planned protests by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) throughout the coming week, Olukayode Egbetokun, the acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP), has ordered strict security across the nation.
The IGP expressed fear in a statement released by ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, the NPF spokesperson, although acknowledging the unions’ right to peaceful demonstrate.
However, the police chief noted in the statement that he had directed the commissioners of police in charge of different commands and the supervisory assistant inspectors general of police to have fruitful discussions with the NLC/TUC leadership to foster understanding and find consensus on the upcoming protests.
The statement said, “While being mindful of the right to peaceful protest, as enshrined in our constitution, the IG urges all parties involved to ensure that the planned demonstrations are conducted in a peaceful manner to prevent being hijacked by miscreants, owing to the previous ugly experiences of such protests in most major cosmopolitan cities in the country.
“The IG, however, acknowledges the grievances raised by the labour unions and the importance of constructive dialogue, which is sine qua none, in addressing these issues.”
The IG also appealed to the NLC, TUC, and other civil society groups, to embrace peaceful dialogue as “the most effective means of resolving grievances,” while warning against violence.
The NPF said the police are committed to ensuring a secure and conducive environment for open dialogue, constructive engagement, and mutual understanding to exercise civil rights seamlessly. Still, it will not tolerate any act that threatens the peace and well-being of the country, adding that perpetrators will be dealt with.
The statement submitted that “A peaceful and coordinated approach is crucial to achieving meaningful solutions and preventing any form of violence or disruptions to public order, should the protests persist.
“The Nigeria Police Force reiterates its commitment to ensuring the safety and security of all citizens during the period of the planned protests as all necessary measures to facilitate the peaceful conduct of these demonstrations have been replaced.
“However, it is hereby reaffirmed that any attempt by miscreants to exploit the situation for violent purposes viz-a-viz vandalism, gangsterism, and extortion will be met with the firm, professional, and commensurate lawful approach. The Police will not tolerate any act that threatens the peace and well-being of our country.
“In light of the potential challenges posed by the planned protests, the Nigeria Police Force is fully prepared to deploy all available resources to maintain law and order and to protect the lives and property of our citizens. The IGP, therefore, calls on all officers to be vigilant, professional, and uphold the highest standards of conduct during this period.