11 January 2018

Nigeria: NLC Defies El-Rufai, Breaks Through Military, Police Barricade

Kaduna — Members of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) on Thursday defied Governor Nasir El-Rufai's ban and went ahead with its protest against the sack of 36, 000 workers in Kaduna.

Our correspondents reports that the police mounted road blocks on all entrances into the state capital as early as 7am including the Zaria-Kaduna, Kaduna-Birnin-Gwari, Kadun-Abuja and Kaduna-Kafanchan road to prevent members of the trade unions gaining entrance into the state to participate in the protest.

At the NLC secretariat located on Laia road just by Independence way, a police and military barricade was mounted and five amoured vehicles, 28 Hilux vehicles and over a hundred police motorcycles and armed security personnel where seen at the premises to enforce the state governments ban on the protest.

Despite the security presence, labour leaders gathered with flags and placards singing union slogans at the gate of the Labour House, which is the NLC secretariat in the state.

"We are ordered by the CP (commissioner of police) not to allow the protesters to cross Independence Way are restricting them to the premises of Labour House," a police officer who took position in front of the Labour gate said.

The labour union organised the march to protest the sack of 36, 000 workers including teachers by the state government whom are being laid off as part of a government reform of its public service to become more efficient and professional.

Daily Trust reports that after a faceoff with security agencies, the protesters were seen marching through the major roads in the state capital and insisted on proceeding to the Government House, where they intend to submit their protest letter to the governor.

The protest, Daily Trust gathered led to an accident where a journalist working with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), in Kaduna rammed into a group of security operatives deployed to curtail the protest.

The journalist, Hajiya Ummul Khairi, who was driving a Peugeot 307 to her office which is close to the NLC secretariat lost control and ran into security officers including soldiers and policemen, damaging a police car in the process.

The journalist said she became confused when she approached the area where the security operatives were manning and as she tried negotiating a bend to enter into the NTA premises, she ran into the security team hitting another Peugeot 406 belonging to a Leadership Hausa reporter.

The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba while speaking to the protesters said, "We will not be intimidated by the heavy security presence sent to curb their protest. Anybody who thinks we cannot come out for the protest has malaria, and that malaria must be treated today."

"The Police cannot deter us and we can never be defeated, therefore, we are determined, we will make our point. We will submit our letter of protest, and if they like they should act but I think it is a welcome development because workers have seen that despite our olive hand of fellowship, to try to see how those issues are resolved on the table, we have seen that with impunity, the decision of the National Industrial Court is being set aside, with impunity, people are not allowed to exercise their freedom of association and this is not what we bargained for."

Responding, Counselor on Information and Communications to the state governor, Saidu Adamu who received the protesters outside the government house collected the protesters letter and assured that he would pass it on to Governor Nasir El-Rufai.

He however explained that the reason behind banning the protest and deploying security personnel is not to stop workers from saying out their grievances, but to secure the state from unscrupulous elements that may take advantage of the protest to cause havoc in the state.

Our correspondent reports that the protest ended peacefully and normalcy has returned to the state.

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