President Goodluck Jonathan has deployed hundreds of gun-wielding soldiers on the streets of Lagos in a desperate bid to forestall peaceful protests scheduled to continue today.
Through reports filed by citizen reporters affiliated with Saharareporters it was gathered that the armed soldiers have taken positions in such spots as Ikeja, Ikoyi, Surulere and Ojota as well as other spots where thousand of Nigerians have poured out in protest the government sharp increase in price of petrol. About 16 check points and barricades have been been mounted around the Gani Fawehinmi Park in Ojota according to reports.
The deployment of soldiers comes on the heels of Mr. Jonathan's planned broadcast Monday morning in which he will announce the reduction of fuel prices to N97 a liter.
In the address, the text of which has already been published in full by Saharareporters, President Jonathan takes an unusually harsh tone towards the protesters.
In an interview moments ago, one of the leaders of the protest movement said that the protests have been held in peaceful atmosphere, but added that President Jonathan appears ready to use force against peace-loving Nigerians. They vowed to make an appearance at the venue today regardless of the presence of the soldiers. Seun Kuti, the son of Afrobeat maestro Fela Anikulapo-Kuti sent an sms to Saharareporters that he will be at the rally today.
A protest leader told SaharaReporters, "We want to make clear that President Jonathan would be held responsible for any casualty that results from his decision to unleash soldiers on unarmed and peaceful protesters who are merely demanding accountability and transparency from their leaders". He further noted that officers of the Nigerian police have so far killed about 20 protesters in different parts of the country, he vowed that Nigerians would never let the victims of police brutality die in vain"
Another protest leader expressed dismay and disappointment with the decision of trade union leaders to unilaterally call off street protests on account some purported security concerns.
He added that some of the in the movement had received speculations all week that the government was offering a variety of financial and other material inducement to labour leaders in order to compromise them.
He stated that, "it would be extremely hard for any compromised labour leader to hoodwink Nigerians who are now determined to seize the opportunity to question the greed as well as ineptitude other so-called leaders"