NLC orders indefinite strike •APC secretariat vandalised
Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, was locked down yesterday by pupils of public secondary schools who staged a protest around the city against state government’s plan to return some schools to their original owners.
The pupils gathered at the state secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oke-Ado and vandalised the two buildings, which also house the Governor Abiola Ajimobi Vocational Centre.
Trouble started after the pupils were sent home by their teachers on resumption at 8am.
The Nation learnt that the teachers told the pupils that the state government owes them salaries and that government was planning to sell their schools.
With leaves in their hands, the protesting pupils moved from Oke-Ado through Dugbe and Mokola to the state secretariat in Agodi, where they demanded to see the governor.
But they were prevented from entering the premises by security operatives stationed at the main gates.
The pupils vandalised the garden to register their grievance. They stayed there for hours while some workers joined them in the process, singing against the government.
They later left around 1pm.
As the protest was going on, the seven leaders of the state’s chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) perfected their bail conditions and were released from Agodi prisons, where they had been detained since court granted them bail on Friday.
At the prisons to secure their release were leaders of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), who arrived at the prison around 11:35am in a three white buses belonging to the union.
The ASUU members were led by Comrade Deji Omole, Dr. Ademola Aremu and the Southwest Coordinator, Prof. Segun Ajiboye.
On securing their release at about 12:40pm, the labour leaders trekked from the prison to the NLC Secretariat, Yidi area, a distance of about 1,500 metres. The three buses followed the unionists.
The labour leaders later addressed reporters where they declared an indefinite strike in the state civil service.
Led by their National Vice-Chairman, Mr. Solomon Adelegan, the NLC said the directive became necessary following a congress at the labour secretariat.
He said the strike would continue until the workers’ demands are met.
The demands, according to Adelegan, include: “Immediate withdrawal of all trump-up charges levelled against the incarcerated labour leaders; government must rescind its decision to sell-off any public schools in the state; proper and adequate funding of the education sector, including payment of living wages and other incentive for educational workers and immediate payment of six months outstanding salaries and pension arrears.”
The labour leader added: “The National Secretariat of NLC is quick to bring to the notice of the public of how the Senator Abiola Ajimobi-led government today mobilised hundreds of armed thugs to Iyaganku Magistrate’s Court with a directive to allegedly attack innocent and law abiding workers whom are expected to be at the same magistrate’s court this morning to ensure the adequate perfection of bail conditions given towards the release of the labour leaders, who had been incarcerated since Friday 3,at Agodi prison in Ibadan.
“Consequently, our members were beaten, harassed and intimated by these gangs of armed thugs.
“This is a deliberate attempt to scare the workers away from the court premises with a view to frustrate the perfection of the bail conditions and ensure that our leaders continue to be incarcerated.
“It is also disheartening to state that students who also stormed the court premises in a protest against an attempt to sell off their schools to a handful of capitalist profiteers were also tear-gassed by policemen.”
Adelegan said the NLC and its Oyo State council condemned the “dastard approach of Ajimobi-led government”.
He added that at the same time, the workers “remain undaunted and no amount of persecution and intimidation is capable to deter us in the struggle to resist the sale of any of the state’s public schools”.
Reacting to the vandalisation of its office, the APC condemned the attack on some of its members and office, saying they were carried out by sponsored hoodlums.
In the statement by the party’s Director of Publicity and Strategy, Olawale Sadare, the party fingered opposition politicians and some members of the labour movement as the sponsors of the hoodlums, who, he said, destroyed property estimated at several millions of Naira.
The statement reads: “Some pupils in their scores had been mobilised out of their respective classrooms in some public secondary schools in Ibadan- the state capital on Monday morning by a group of ‘politician-teachers sympathetic to the Accord Party’ and moved round the city with cudgels, broken bottles and other dangerous weapons as they chanted political and anti-government songs.
“At about few minutes past 11am, hoodlums which comprised of some public secondary school students as well as some disgruntled members of the NLC/NUT and the opposition party- Accord – stormed our party state secretariat at Oke-Ado and began to vandalise everything on sight. They also beat up some members of staff who had to be treated for varying degrees of injury sustained in the hands of the attackers before they were dispersed by the security agents.”
The statement called on the state Police Command and other security agencies to investigate the incident with a view to bringing the perpetrators and their sponsors to book.
It appealed to the labour movement and other concerned groups to sheathe their sword and toe the line of dialogue with the state government.