Nigerian police Thursday dispersed and arrested protesters decrying the recent hike in petrol prices and electricity tariffs in the suburban city of Ojuelegba, Lagos, local media reported.
This comes as a series of demonstrations against the increase in petrol prices and electricity tariff has reportedly hit different parts of the oil-rich country, according to news website Politics Nigeria.
The arrested protesters are members of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) and the National Conscience Party (NCP), according to the report.
Four journalists were also arrested while covering protests around Ojuelegba.
The four journalists – Ifeoluwa Adediran of Premium Times, Abiodun Ayeoba of Sahara Reporters, Awoniyi Oluwatosin of Objective Media, and Daniel Tanimu of Galaxy Television – were taken into custody along with 14 protesters, the report said.
The arrests were condemned by the International Press Centre (IPC), a media development organization based in Lagos.
“The IPC disapproves of the harassment and brutalization of the journalists in the course of legitimate duty and particularly decries the seizure and damage to their working tools,” the IPC said in a statement quoted in the report.
“The IPC demands the immediate and unconditional release of the journalists. The police should also return their seized gadgets and pay compensation for the damaged ones,” it added.
In March, Nigeria’s federal government said the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) would modulate the prices in accordance with market dynamics.
Petrol prices in the oil-rich country have increased for three straight months, rising from slightly over 121 naira ($0.32) per liter in June to over 143 naira ($0.38) in July, 150 naira ($0.39) in August, and 162 naira ($0.43) in September, according to the report.
Earlier this month, the Petroleum Products Marketing Company increased the ex-depot rate of petrol – the price at which it is sold to suppliers – to over 151 naira ($0.40) from 138 naira ($0.36), before slashing it down to 147 naira ($0.39).
After the ex-depot adjustment, the retail price of petrol has now reached 160 naira ($0.42) per liter, according to Politics Nigeria.
As for electricity, authorities have approved a rise in rates starting from September, although a previous tariff hike slated for 1 July was halted by the Nigerian parliament.
Power distribution companies had been asked to put off any tariff increase until the first quarter of 2021 due to “the current economic challenges in Nigeria,” according to daily Punch.
However, consumers, except those receiving less than 12 hours of supply, will have to pay more for electricity starting from 1 September.