Oil Workers Deny Attacking Imo Governor's Convoy - THE ENCOUNTER NEWS


Thursday, August 20, 2020

Oil Workers Deny Attacking Imo Governor's Convoy

Ebube Berechi

OWERRI - Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (ISOPADEC) workers have denied the allegations that they attacked Governor Hope Uzodimma’s convoy.

They also denied the state government’s claim that they were sponsored by the opposition.

Chairman of ISOPADEC workers union, Awuzie Chinedu, said in a statement that 15 of their arrested colleagues “were beaten black and blue by armed government-backed thugs and police officers drawn from the Shell Camp Police Station as well as the governor’s personal guards squadron”.

He said the workers, including nursing mothers and expectant mothers  were only protesting “the unlawful seizure and slashing of their salaries for many months”.

The statement reads: “They were armed with only their voices, medical face masks and placards. This has been our culture with respect to protests, especially under this period of COVID-19.

“The attempt by the police to pin the allegation of bearing weapons, to wit: a locally made pistol, one rusty machete and a mask on them are therefore misguided and false.

“Will these protesters, all 15 of them, ‘ambush’ the state governor, who is undoubtedly the most guarded citizen of Imo State, with one locally made pistol, one machete and a masquerade’s mask (attire)?

“Or, will they use a chain and padlock to lock up the Imo State public coffers?

“It is our position that staff of ISOPADEC that have not been paid for about four months have the right to protest, and do not require the permission of the Police or anyone else to exercise this constitutionally guaranteed right.”

The workers insisted that their protests were not sponsored by any politician or party.

They said: “If anything, our agitation is sponsored by hunger, lack and deprivation.

“Our protest is sponsored by our land which bleeds from under-development, social disinvestment and despoliation by oil and gas exploration, despite accounting for more than 95 per cent of all revenues accruing to the Imo State government.

“We do not need anyone to sponsor our agitation. We are educated enough, enlightened enough, courageous enough to know when our rights as guaranteed under the law and Constitution are violently violated, and to respond accordingly.

“This is without prejudice to our inalienable right, under the Constitution, to associate freely with anyone; including the alienable right to, jointly and severally belong to, or align with any political party in Nigeria, if we choose.

“Therefore, we view as ignorant and insulting any insinuation or assertion such as the false and reckless statements credited to the Imo State Commissioner for Information, Mr Declan Emelumba, to the effect that ISOPADEC staff protests were sponsored by opposition political parties."

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