• Threatens sit-at-home from today 

From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin 

Tension rose yesterday in Benin, Edo State following various protests that rocked the city due to the hike in fuel pump price.

The protesters barricaded various strategic places leading to adjoining streets in the state capital even as some of the schools shut down for safety and security of students and teachers.

It was learnt that some of the private schools sent text messages to parents as early as 6:30 am informing that they would not open for academic activities as they could not predict the outcome of the protest, while those who did not send prior messages asked the pupils and their guardians to go back home.

There was, however, heavy security presence in all flash points as early as 6 am, among them policemen, armoured vehicles, Edo State Vigilante Group, and Public Works Volunteers (PUWOV). 

Noticeable among the protest groups were the Edo State civil society organisations (EDOSCO) and Faculty of Peace Organisation (FPO).

The protesters, who marched through Sapele Road to the Ring Road, chanted various solidarity songs and warned store owners who opened for businesses not to open today or face dire consequences.

Speaking during the protest, former coordinator general, EDOSCO, Omobude Agho, said the citizens of the country have been taken for granted and constantly made to suffer untold hardship in the midst of abundance.

He said the recent hike in fuel price was anti-people and that Nigerians could no longer endure the hardship.

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Agho said prices of things hadgone up while minimum wage remained stagnated.

“Fuel has become N700 per litre and minimum wage is N30,000. Bag of rice is over N50,000 and the minimum wage is still N30,000. We can’t continue like this in this country and we are coming out to say Nigerians must take action,” Agho said.

“And if they know they can’t provide leadership for the country, they should give room for those who can to provide leadership,” he added.

He maintained that the civil society organisations in the state will from this time, henceforth, take the battle to those who are sabotaging the nation’s economy and causing untold hardship on the Nigerian citizens.

“We will catch a black marketers, we will seize the fuel, we will convert it and if you don’t have anything to do with the fuel, throw them away.So, when those at the black market don’t have the fuel, the filling stations will be forced to sell at the fixed price. 

“And the filling stations that are selling above the Federal Government agreed price, we will begin to picket them.”

Meanwhile, Governor Godwin Obaseki., yesterday said he has studied the grievances expressed by protesters as stated in the letter addressed to him on the issue.

The government acknowledges the plight of the Edo people who have had to endure gruelling experiences accessing petroleum products as well as the exorbitant prices the product is sold in the state in the last few days.

On account of that, the government is undertaking the following actions, including setting up a monitoring committee made up of actors in the private sector, civil society organisations and government that will monitor the distribution and pricing of the product to ensure shylock marketers do not take advantage of the situation to rip Edo citizens off, within the next 24 hours.