Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Nigerians Hail Withdrawal of Soldiers From Capital

Lagosians hail withdrawal of soldiers from streets

By Miriam Ndikanwu and Adebisi Onanuga
Nigerian Nation

LAGOSIANS reclaimed their city yesterday without a fight. Gone were soldiers deployed by the Federal Government to smash the popular anti-fuel subsidy removal protest.

They stole out of the metropolis the way they came in early January 16.

Lagosians woke up on that day to find military men on the streets following labour’s suspension of the national strike against petrol subsidy removal and termination of street protests.

Lagosians were united in their rejection of the troops’ presence in the city.

Governor Babatunde Fashola, in a broadcast called for the withdrawal of the troops. He followed up with a letter to the President to press home the request.

Elder statesmen – Prof. Ben Nwabueze, Dr Tunji Braithwaite, Dr Kalu Idika Kalu – among others marched on the streets in protest. They were tear-gassed by policemen.

The troops were no longer at the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park.

All the military trucks, pick up vans and three armoured tanks deployed at the Freedom Park, scene of the protests, and on Kudirat Abiola Way, Oregun, had been removed.

Soldiers have vacated the popular Ikorodu Oga Roundabout at Garage bus stop, Gbagada and Oshodi.

However, the police are still mounting guard at the Fawehinmi Park and at other locations within Lagos and on the outskirts of the city.

A driver at the motor park near the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park told our reporters that he saw the military vehicles and the personnel moving away from the Park towards Maryland early yesterday.

Troops were no longer at Agege, Falomo, Agboju, Ijora, Costain and Ojuelegba.

Residents hailed the withdrawal of the troops. They said that their continuous presence was fast becoming an embarrassment to the nation in the wake of serious security threats in Northern Nigeria.

“See what happened in Kano on Friday; we lost about 200 innocent Nigerians, and here you had soldiers who looked poised for war, sleeping all day. If they were deployed in Kano, we couldn’t have had that kind of devastating incident. Lagos is peaceful and will always remain peaceful. They would be more useful in the North”.

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