Following the continuous protest of striking Local Government Workers in Plateau state over the non-implementation of N30,000 minimum wage proposed by the federal government. The protest was recently greeted by the military when they arrived the protest venue to disperse the workers who have continuously blocked the entrance to the state secretariat.
The incident has seen both parties faulting each other with the recent being the alleged shooting of a soldier attached to Operation Safe Haven, a military outfit in Plateau State, by aggrieved protesting Plateau local government workers.
A group under the auspices of the Coalition of Civil Rights Group of Nigeria has confirmed the resultant violence by some of the protesters which it alleged led to the shooting of a soldier at the state secretariat was against the spirit of the protest.
The Coalition, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Arin Izan and Secretary, Mrs Esther Pam, respectively, condemned the shooting of the Army Lance Corporal by the protesters.
“We condemn in the strongest terms the shooting and wounding of an Army Lance Corporal attached to Operation Safe Haven by the protesting members of staff of local government councils in Plateau State at the state secretariat.
“This senseless act is a further confirmation that politicians and hoodlums have truly hijacked the protest and there is a need for government and security agencies to take drastic action because this desperate and selfish act may plunge our state into another round of violence,” the group said in a statement.
It further added that “it is so obvious that local government area workers’ protest has been hijacked by self-seeking politicians to destabilise the peace and tranquillity in Jos.
“We understand efforts are ongoing to resolve the issues with relevant stakeholders, however, some of the local government workers; obviously sponsored by some politicians, have remained adamant and preferred to protest.
“They prevented state government workers from gaining access to their offices in the state secretariat in the last three weeks,” it recalled.
The Coalition also noted that, “we saw protesters numbering about 3,000 trying to gain entrance into the state secretariat, but troops of Operation Safe Haven, men of the Nigeria Police as well as other security agencies already deployed to forestall any breakdown of law and order intervened to forestall breakdown of law but unfortunately, some of the protesters went violent by trying to forcibly gain entrance and harassing innocent citizens.
“A shot from the crowd hit one soldier attached to Operation Safe Haven and he was wounded. It is obvious that hoodlums have infiltrated the group.
“It is unfortunate that some people will be determined to disturb the peace and the tranquillity of Jos at the beginning of the year when most people are trying to put their lives together to face the New Year.
“We urge government and security agencies to do the needful and prevent these self-seeking politicians from having their way. They do not mean good for the workers they pretend to be supporting.
However the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has debunked any rumor and media reports suggesting that a soldier was shot during the recent unfolding between security agencies and protesting NULGE workers.
This position was disclosed following an emergency meeting summon at the instance of the Jos North LGA Chairman in order to find solutions to the incidents that followed the arrest and arraignment of protesters few days ago.
Comrade Danladi Dalek, NULGE Secretary, Jos North LGA debunked the rumour making rounds that there was a clash between security agencies and protesting LG Staff. In his own words
“There was no clash, they only came and barricaded our freedom square, (the place in front of the State Secretariat Gate), where we usually gather there every morning 7am – 8am to pray and sing and peacefully ask for our rights”.
“We arrived there and met them in their numbers, it was like the entire barracks was brought to the place. They asked us to leave the place, we refused and told them that we usually gather there to press home our demand”.
“Suddenly, they started throwing tear gas at us, people started running, those who could run ran away while those who could not were apprehended. About fifty-three (53) people were apprehended and arraigned at two mobile courts, one at JMDB and the other at Kasuwan nama. They have been released after we fulfilled bail conditions”.
When asked if the stories were true that a soldier was shot by the protesters he maintained that “We are unarmed, harmless and peaceful protesters. We only have our banners and placards only”.