SEVERAL private schools in Benin City, the Edo State capital were locked on Monday as civil society organisations protested against the ongoing scarcity and hike of the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol.
Noticeable among the protest groups were the Edo State Civil Society Organizations (EDOCSO) and the Faculty of Peace Organization (FPO).
The peaceful protest which grounded businesses and other activities in several parts of Benin City started as early as 7:00 am, as Managements of some private schools reportedly sent text messages to parents as early as 6:30am, informing parents and guardians that school would not open, apparently over fear of the planned protest.
Other schools who did not send text messages to parents and guardians were seen sending their pupils back home at their entrance gates in what could be described as fear of the unknown.
There was heavy security presence across the Benin metropolis as early as 6:00 am, just as armed policemen, armoured vehicles, members of the Edo State Security Network (ESSN), as well as members of the Public Works Volunteers (PUWOV) took control of major areas in the state capital.
Speaking to newsmen during the protest, one of the leaders of EDOCSO, Leftist Omobude Agho, said the recent hike in the petroleum pump price is anti-people, frowning that Nigerians can no longer endure the hardship.
He said “Fuel has become N700, Bag of rice is over N50,000 and the minimum wage is still N30,000.
“Before, we say we will resist them but now, we will fight them. Anywhere you see black marketers, pursue them, and don’t pity them that they are poor. Anybody that is wicked whether poor or rich, is wicked.
“Anywhere we 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”, he advised his co-protesters.
Speaking at the Edo State Government House in Benin City, one of the Coordinators of the protest, Osunbor Omokaro, averred that: “Only the Mega Marketers are selling fuel at the government approved price in Edo State.
“Go to Lagos State, Conoil, NIPCO, MRS are still selling at the government-approved price, but when it comes to Edo State, our products are being diverted to independent marketers.
“That is why our situation is even worse. We know there is a shortage of petroleum products in Nigeria, but the kind of prices and the pain that residents of Edo state are being subjected to because of the manipulative tendency of the major marketers is unbearable”, he lamented.
Receiving the protesters, the Speaker, Edo State House of Assembly, Hon. Marcus Onobun, said he would relay the complaints of the protesters to the Executive Arm of the Government especially on their query that the state government has not deemed it fit to set up a task force to check the anomalies in the petroleum distribution chain.