By Comrade Dankano Abdulahi
Few weeks after the nation was gripped with the merciless beating of the President of Nigeria Labour Congress, a repeat of such dishonorable action was witnessed today at Osogbo this Wednesday. Judicial workers protesting withholding of their allowances and abuse of power by the Chief Judge of Osun state were tear gassed and beating up by the police even when they were rightly picketing the High Court in line with labour laws and regulations.
This dastardly act sent shockwaves through Osun society. Why should police beat up workers for picketing and demanding for their rights? Why should the police take side between the workers and the Chief Judge? What could warrant the police preventing workers from exercising their legal rights?
If the Police claim to be enforcing the order of an Ibadan court, the question is whether that order nullifies the rights of workers to protest? Does the order stop workers from demanding from the National Judicial Council immediate investigation into weighty allegations of abuse of power, diversion of state funds and high handedness leveled against the Chief Judge? Does the court order include tear gassing lawful assembly as in workers picketing in pursuance of their rights?
By brutalizing the labour leaders, the Osun state police command is enmeshed in a shameful conduct that is not in the best interest of the service. The police cannot and must not act in a way that portrays it as a political tool to be used against the workers. Its conduct and actions today cast doubt on the mission and agenda of the new police leadership in Osun state.
A new police commissioner was just posted to Osun state. From records,he is said to be a good man, a clean professional. But it is discomforting that from day one of his posting , members of APC in Osun state have been boasting that he was posted to serve their interest and agenda of making Osun state ungovernable. In fact, one APC man was quoted as saying Mr Ajibola Bashiru actually influenced the posting of the new police chief to Osun state. Those are however mere insinuations to be ignored. Nobody believes those rumours and innuendo.
But events today at the High Court raised deep concerns. Is the new Police Chief aware of this condemnable violations of workers’ rights? Is he in the know of the brutality metted on the workers by his men? Or did he indeed approve such operations after recent embarrassment from the Imo incident? It is still believable that all the rumours about the new CP are wrong. It cannot be right. His antecedent does not reflect such unprofessional conduct.
Whatever the truth may be , we call on the new police Chief to be aware that this is Osun state, the cradle of Yoruba race. This is a state where police or any other security chief cannot afford to be used as an agent of oppression. Osun people are simply too resilient to be subjugated. The new CP should as a matter of urgency review his strategy and modus operandi. He must prove people wrong by ensuring genuine professionalism in policing.
It is not a good optic for the CP that his first outing is to tear gas workers. It is not a great record for him to be siding with a CJ accused of so many grievous offenses.
Now he has plunged the state into judicial strike, paralysing the justice administration system. This is a bad start and we hope the CP will urgently redress the situation by allowing freedom of workers’ activities . The police reprehensible conduct today sends negative signals.
● Comrade Dankano Abdulahi sent this piece from the headquarters of the Nigerian Labour Congress , Abuja