A joint security task force comprising the police and the army on Monday fired teargas on protesting Local Government workers in Plateau State.
The aggrieved workers from the seven Local Government Areas of the state had been protesting the non-payment of the N30, 000 minimum wage by the state government for the past three weeks.
It was learnt that the LG workers who were all dressed in black attires had gathered at the state Secretariat in Jos on Monday as early as 7am to continue their protest as usual when the security operatives invaded the area with tear gas to disperse them.
The Vice-Chairman of the National Union of Local Government Employees, Bokkos LGA, Barnabas Phillip, told The PUNCH in Jos on Monday that during the operation, thirty-two of their members were arrested by the operatives and taken to the headquarters of the Jos Metropolitan Development Board while several others who were trying to escape from the choking substance fired at them by the security agents sustained injuries.
Philip who was one of those arrested described the action of the state government as unfortunate saying, “As I speak with you now, we are at the JMDB headquarters in Jos after the state government sent the police and soldiers to tear-gas and arrest the LG workers for protesting the non-payment of our N30, 000 minimum wage.
“Thirty-two of the protesting LG workers including myself were arrested this morning for committing no offence other than asking that our legitimate entitlements should be given to us.
“They bundled us into their vans and brought us here. This is very unfortunate.”
When contacted, Spokesman for the State Police Command, Ubah Ogaba, denied knowledge of any arrest made by his men in connection with the protests.
Ogaba said, “I am not aware that any LG worker has been arrested. When we learnt that some people were planning to disrupt the peace in the state, we only deployed our men and officers in the state Secretariate to ensure nothing like that happened.
“It is possible that the LG workers who said that they were arrested may have been invited but not arrested. But if anyone has been arrested by our men, such a person must have committed an offence to warrant his arrest. In any case, I will find out from the DPO in charge of the area where the affected workers were taken to in order to find out the true situation of things. ”
When our Correspondent visited the State Secretariat in Jos around 1:30pm, security operatives were seen patrolling the areas.
However, the workers who regrouped at the State Secretariat junction flyover were seen chanting anti-government slogans.
They also vowed to continue with the protests and insisted that they would not be intimidated by the action of the government to abandon their demands
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