Economic hardship: No turning back on planned protests - NLC

The Nigeria Labour Congress reiterated its determination to hold scheduled rallies on Tuesday and Wednesday, citing “mounting hunger and insecurity” in Nigeria.

Joe Ajaero, President of the NLC, confirmed this in a statement released on Sunday.

Ajaero claimed that the Federal Government is seeking to utilize a body called the Nigeria Civil Society Forum to target its members during rallies.

He pledged to ensure Nigeria’s total shutdown by withdrawing services if any of its members were attacked during the demonstration.

The Department of State Services has warned that the planned demonstration could be hijacked by “some elements.”

This came as the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, cautioned that participating in the protests would be contempt of court.

However, the NLC stated, "We would like to alert Nigerians that the state has prepared preparations to attack our peaceful demonstrations around the country.

"One of the groups preparing to attack our nonviolent marches is known as the Nigeria Civil Society Forum (NCSF).

"NCSF is one of the emergency groups organized, funded, pushed, and remotely managed by the government to incite violence against our members for choosing to peacefully protest hunger in the country.

“We, however, remain resolute, determined and prepared to express our pain and grief in a peaceful manner as Nigerians come 27th and 28th of February 2024.”

Speaking on the planned protests, DSS spokesman Peter Afunanya issued a statement urging the NLC to abandon the proposal.

He asked the NLC not to participate in the protests in the interests of peace and public order, claiming that doing so would exacerbate tensions throughout the country.

The statement said, "The DSS’s attention has been called to plans by sectors of organized labour to launch protests in regions of the country on February 27th and 28th, 2024, over various economic difficulties.

“While the service recognizes the labor movement’s legitimate right to take such action, it urges the body to put the plan on hold in the interest of public order and peace.”

"The DSS also encourages parties to engage in communication and negotiation rather than conduct that may exacerbate tensions.

“This is especially true because the service is aware that some elements intend to take advantage of the protest to create turmoil and, as a result, widespread violence. The development will undoubtedly aggravate the country’s socioeconomic predicament.”