Today (7 July) two members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Ojo Olajire (OJ) and Peluola Adewale (Pelad), were arrested by members of Nigerian Police Force at Oshodi bus stop, in Oshodi Isolo local government in Lagos State.
Faced with increasing opposition to his regime’s neo-liberal policies and authoritarian tendencies President Obasanjo is using more and more repressive measures against opponents. Obasanjo’s re-election last year was marked by massive vote rigging and now he is being further undermined by the continuing social and economic crisis in Nigeria.
After four general strikes in four years Obasanjo now is seeking legal powers to break up the Nigerian Labour Congress and individual trade unions.
This year has already seen wholesale arrests of peaceful demonstrators, increasing harassment of individual activists and during June’s three day general strike one worker was killed and another wounded when police attacked workers outside the Nigerian Labour Congress’s national secretariat in Abuja.
The arrest of DSM members is part and parcel of the regime’s repressive drive.
While both Ojo Olajire (OJ) and Peluola Adewale (Pelad) were released on bail on 8 July after a day in custody their arrest is simply the latest warning of how the Obasanjo regime is moving to limit democratic rights. This means that the workers’ movement needs to remain vigilant and react to react when workers’ rights are threatened.
We reprint below a Democratic Socialist Movement statement issued immediately after the arrests on 7 July. socialistworld.net.
Release Peluola Adewale (Pelad) and Ojo Olajire (OJ) now!
According to the police officers who arrested them, the two DSM members were arrested for being in possession of Socialist Democracy (SD), the bi-monthly organ of the DSM. The police officer took special exception to the editorial titled: “General Strikes: How To Fight And Defeat Obasanjo’s Capitalist Government”, which they claim was offensive to the governments in power.
As at the time they were arrested, Pelad and OJ were coming from Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idi-Araba, Lagos, where they had gone to express the DSM solidarity with the striking health workers who have been fighting for improved wages and conditions for almost three weeks.
As at the time of issuing this statement, the authorities at Mosafejo police station, Oshodi, has totally refused the request made by DSM representatives to release the detained comrades on bail.
We in the DSM totally condemn this militaristic repression of our comrades for the mere “offence” of being in possession of anti-government publication in a supposed democracy. We consequently demand for their immediate and unconditional release.
If however the police believe that they (the comrades) have violated any law of the land, they should be promptly charged before a court of competent jurisdiction.