Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has condemned the use of security personnel by the Kogi Government to brutalise and detain peacefully-protesting students of the state-owned tertiary institution.
Ayuba Wabba, NLC president, in a statement on Tuesday, said the right to peaceful protest was guaranteed by the Constitution, the highest law of the land and should not be abridged by the Governor or security agencies.
“The students should therefore be released immediately and unconditionally, else the entire Labour Movement with its Civil Society allies will mobilise to the state without further notice.
“We advise the governor, who has fought everybody that has dared to raise a voice, not to test the will or the resolve of the Nigerian workers to see through the task of preserving democracy in the state.
“We find it necessary to state that tertiary institutions owned by the Government of Kogi have been on strike for over six months over unpaid salaries.
“In the said period, the students took it upon themselves to mediate between the workers and the Government.
“And whereas, the workers were ready to make concessions, the government refused to shift ground”, he said.
He said the impact of the strike on all the parties had been great with the students most worst hit.
He noted that some students have lost an academic year while others have twice missed the opportunity to graduate and do national service.
The NLC president, however, said that there was no solution in sight or any appreciable effort by government to bring the strike to an end.
He added that the students were left with no option than to embark on a peaceful protest intended to bring government and the striking workers to the negotiating table.
“We find it saddening that instead of commending the students for their initiative and patriotism, the State Government decided to criminalise the peaceful protest, which suggested that no lesson has been learnt from such fruitless adventures.
“It is interesting to note that Kogi tops the chart of non-salary paying states with 15 months backlog in spite of warehousing for the government of Yahaya Bello the first bail-out fund and the second bail-out.
“Salaries and pensions constitute fundamental human rights of workers and pensioners and nothing should be done to threaten these or else the lives of workers, pensioners and their families are put in jeopardy”, Wabba said.
He advised Bello to pay up outstanding salaries and pensions, negotiate with striking workers in tertiary institutions without any further delay.