PROTESTING members of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, in Oyo State, yesterday, stormed the state secretariat, on the second day of their protest, beating civil servants who refused to join the on-going protest in the state.
The protesting NLC members are drawn from various ministries, which include judiciary, parastatals and other agencies.
Civil servants were beaten up by the protesters, under the watch of some labour leaders, disrupting activities in government offices for several hours, locking some in their offices.
The ongoing protest by the NLC began on Monday, following their demands for payment of leave bonus, payment of gratuities to retirees who have been stagnated since the year 2021 and release of promotion letters for 2021 and 2022.
The aggrieved labour members blocked the entrance to the government secretariat in the state for the second time over the failure of Governor ‘Seyi Makinde to meet and dialogue with them.
Their demands include payment of their deductions, and allowances, among other struggles, since the inauguration of the governor in 2019.
While some protesters stormed the entrance of the state secretariat, some male members of the union were assigned to sack offices within the secretariat, chasing out civil servants to join the protest by force.
The protesters, who carried sticks sang songs and disrupted official duties which also affected vehicular movement.
Civil servant beaten
A victim of the harassment, Dare Olaniyan, sustained injuries when he was manhandled by the protesters.
In a chat with Vanguard, Olaniyan, a staff of the Ministry of Information and Orientation, said he was beaten by some of the protesters, despite identifying himself with them.
He said: “I came inside the Secretariat premises to pick up my belongings, in the office. All attempts to explain this to the protesters fell on deaf ears, as they launched an attack on me, for no just cause.
“But rather than settling the issue amicably, the NLC members decided to go physical, engaging me and others with me in a fight.”
It took the intervention of the Executive Assistant to the Governor on Security, CP Sunday Odukoya (retd) to stop them immediately.
Mr Odukoya, who frowned at the development, said: “Beating civil servants in the name of protest is against the law. You must desist from this act henceforth.”
Ensure protest is peaceful, CSOs tell Labour
Meanwhile, a Coalition of Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, in collaboration with the Labour Centre, yesterday, urged the NLC to ensure that it was peaceful.
Rising from its town hall meeting in Lagos, the groups said the protests must not degenerate into the destruction of private and public properties, stating that they wouldn’t want a repeat of the looting, vandalism and loss of lives experienced during the EndSARS protests of 2020.
In a communiqué signed by 21 CSOs, they insisted that removing fuel subsidy was vital to saving the economy from collapse.
Speaking on behalf of the CSOs, Mr Razaq Olookoba said: “The economic inconvenience of fuel subsidy removal is affecting all strata of the Nigerian society.
“The gains of the removal of fuel subsidy have started manifesting in increased savings of an unprecedented one trillion naira within two months, thus government has more funds to deliver democratic dividends to the citizenry.
“Nigerians are enjoined to show understanding and patience on this matter with the optimism that the fuel subsidy removal aftermath is a temporary sacrifice to pay for a better and enduring future.
“The Nigerian people are determined to defend democracy with all legitimate means necessary for our collective good. Nigerians and groups are enjoined to ventilate their views on the fuel subsidy removal and other issues within the purview of the law and not allow themselves to be hoodwinked or provoked into anarchy by anti-democratic elements.
“We say no to the breakdown of law and order in the guise of exercise of fundamental rights of citizens and call on the security agencies to be alive to their responsibilities.
“We wish to alert Nigerians to beware of the threat to national security by persons and groups using the fuel subsidy removal issue for political capital.
“Local government council administrations are enjoined to follow the paths of the federal and state governments in outlining their palliatives and measures to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal on the citizenry.”