A national newspaper had reported that scores of vehicle plying Okene highway, especially those suspected to belong to state and federal governments were said to have been set ablaze in the course of the demonstration.
But in a statement signed by Michael Jegede, the Media Assistant to the Senator, Abatemi-Usman said the report was untrue and a mere figment of the reporter’s imagination.
The Vice Chairman of Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs maintained that the said protest in Okene was very peaceful, as the people only came out to register their dissatisfaction over the withdrawal of subsidy.
“I wish to state very clearly that the report that several vehicles were burnt in Okene during the protest against subsidy removal in my senatorial zone, written by one Emmanuel Adeyemi in Lokoja and published on page 14 of the Daily Sun of Thursday, January 5, 2012 was untrue and misleading. The people of my constituency only came out to express their grievances over the removal of fuel subsidy which has caused them untold hardship since the beginning of the New Year. Unlike some other places that such protest turned violent, the people of Kogi Central Senatorial district, who have since resolved to live in peace, comported themselves in a peaceful manner during the protest, which according to my findings did not last as long as five hours as indicated in the report,” Abatemi-Usman said.
The Senator advised that journalists should always endeavour to verify any information before them to ensure factual reporting of events, so as to avoid misleading the public and creating a wrong impression about a person or group of persons.
He once again called on Nigerians to exercise caution and restraint on the issue of fuel subsidy, while expresing hope that something would definitely be done to reduce the unnecessary hardship the people are made go through.