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Plateau protesters burn houses of commissioner, others

11 December 2012, 15:22

Plateau - Some youths in Langtang South Local Government Area of Plateau on Tuesday burnt down the houses of a commissioner, a legislator and the council chairman.

The victims included Mr Bako Famak, Youths Development Commissioner, Mrs Joyce Ramnap, the lawmaker, and Mr Nanman Darko, the chairman.

An eyewitness said in Langtang on Tuesday that the mob allegedly took advantage of the strike declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress in solidarity with teachers and other local government workers to go haywire.

The local government workers including primary school teachers have been at home for eight months to protest the non-implementation of the N18,000 minimum wage.

An eyewitness, who pleaded anonymity, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the reasons for the attack on the houses was not clear.

He said, ``The rioters, had however, accused the victims of allegedly conspiring with Gov. Jonah Jang to sustain the strike and subject the workers to untold hardship.

``They also claimed that the non-implementation of the wage and the prolonged strike had killed many innocent people.''

NAN reports that while the houses of Ramnap and Darko were completely burnt down, Famak’s resident was only partially burnt.

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr Abuh Emmanuel, confirmed the incident, which he described as very sad.

``We have already deployed policemen to restore normalcy to the affected area,’’ he said.

Emmanuel described the action of the mob as criminal and uncalled for since the strike was itself was illegal.

``There is a court injunction, yet the workers have chosen to embark on strike; we shall not tolerate any act of indiscipline from any individual or group,'' he said.

Also commenting, the Plateau State Government, through its Information Commissioner, Mr Abraham Yiljap, confirmed that government had received reports of arson.

Yiljap also said that government had received reports of bloody physical attacks on law abiding citizens of Plateau by some labour leaders.

He said, ``As a government, we find this incident tragic, especially coming at a time when labour leaders should have invested their creative energies on focused negotiations toward ending the disagreement.

``We also note that the strike itself was a flagrant disregard for the order restraining the strike action given by the National Industrial Court in Abuja.

``The labour leaders have presented themselves as being above the law since they were only expected to wait for when they will present their position on the matter before the Industrial Court.

``The labour leaders should have explored ways toward an amicable solution of the feud.

``That is instead of encouraging, supporting and sponsoring their members and some unidentified people to engage in willful damage of private and public property as well as violence against the people.''

Yiljap said that it was tragic that in this period of democratic governance, there could be found among organised labour, those that are anti-law, even after benefiting from the law.

He said that the Plateau Government had demonstrated its respect for law and order by approaching a court because it did not want to resort to ``self-help’’.

He said, ``So far, government has acted with all civility, decency, maturity, restraint and patriotism in handling this labour dispute.

``But it is very sad indeed that labour has not only chosen the path of disobeying a valid court order, but has gone ahead to do violence on innocent citizens.

``Consequently, Jang has held a meeting with security chiefs and ordered that adequate measures be taken to contain arson and other forms of criminal activities and to bring perpetrators and sponsors to justice.’’

NAN reports that the NLC had ordered all workers to join the strike, as part of solidarity after a 10-day ultimatum to the Plateau Government to meet the workers’ demand.

The ultimatum expired on Monday, Dec. 10.



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