The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Tuesday accused the Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, of unleashing armed thugs to violently attack protesting workers in the state.
What the workers planned to be a peaceful protest march over what they called “the reign of industrial tyranny and impunity by the Kaduna State Governor” turned violent on Tuesday followings coordinated attacks on them by elements suspected to have been sponsored by the state government
The NLC, which recounted how the workers were attacked while security operatives watched, described the attack as “a very vitriolic street violence ostensibly at the instigation of the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai.”
In a statement signed by its
Acting General Secretary, Ismail Bello, on behalf of the President, Ayuba Wabba, the NLC said: “Nigerian workers in Kaduna State had embarked on industrial actions in Kaduna State from midnight of Sunday, 16th May 2021.
“This was in protest against yet another round of mass sack and redundancy of workers by the government of Kaduna State under Mr. Nasir El-Rufai.
“The street protest by workers, which started on Monday, May 17, 2021, had been very peaceful until today (Tuesday).
“On the first day of the protest, workers in their thousands and led by NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba and other labour leaders marched to the Kaduna State House of Assembly, where the Congress President addressed the public.
“Just towards the end of the address of Comrade Ayuba Wabba, a convoy of the Kaduna State Governor approached the NEPA Junction, at the heart of Kaduna metropolis where today (Tuesday)’s protest was staged.
“Immediately the Governor’s convoy beat retreat from the sea of human heads that had showed up in solidarity with Nigerian workers, bus loads of thugs and hooligans drove into NEPA Roundabout from the axis where security operatives supposedly had cordoned off. What happened next can only be described with words apt for a war front.
“The weed smoking hoodlums disembarked from the buses that brought them, brandished all manner of weapons and surged towards the protesters who were by this time seated under any available shade and listening to the speeches made by their leaders.
“To our greatest consternation, while the hired killer squad attacked workers, the initial response of the security operatives who were there presumably to protect the protesting workers was “siddon-look”, and subsequently entreaties with the criminal mob.
“It was only when workers began to defend themselves did the security operatives get into the fray – and their first action was to fire tear gas cannisters at protesting workers.
“It was only when workers refused to lay duck for a grand slaughter and began to give the invading thugs the chase of their lives that security operatives woke up to their duties and began to make some arrests.”
On Monday, May 17, 2021, the NLC President warned of plans by the government to infiltrate the ranks of the protesting workers to unleash mayhem.
Regardless, the Labour leader said Tuesday’s total shut down of government business and crippling of socio-economic activities in Kaduna State since the strike action was declared, despite threats from the government were testimonies of the success of the exercise.
“Despite threats from the one Nigerians now prefer to call “HELL-RUFAI” shows that our (workers’) backs are now squeezed against the wall and there is no other place to run to than to turn and confront the OPPRESSOR.
“It is horrendous that Mr. El-Rufai could have the resources to mobilize violence against innocent workers, but claim that it is impossible to maintain hardworking public servants in Kaduna State on the payroll.”
Wabba said Labour is worried why none of the governor’s children was in the mob that he unleashed on the protesting workers.
He said the mass sack of public workers, the increase in tuition fees paid by students in Kaduna State and the refusal to pay the redundancy benefits of over 60 percent of workers sacked by the state government signpost a determined agenda to perpetuate dynasties of destitution.
Nigerian workers, the NLC President said, are not scarred or deterred by the governor’s jungle juggling with violence, assuring that the workers would continue the protest against the anti-human, anti-worker and anti-trade union machinations of the governor.
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