Members of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) yesterday defied Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s order against protest and went ahead with its demonstration against the sack of 36, 000 workers, mostly teachers by the Kaduna State Government.
The police mounted road blocks around all entrances into the state capital as early as 7am to deny members of the trade unions entrance into the state to participate in the protest.
Five amoured vehicles, 28 Hilux vans and over a hundred police motorcycles mounted by armed security personnel surrounded the NLC secretariat located on Lafia Road by Independence Way, to enforce the state government’s ban on the protest.
“We are ordered by the commissioner of police not to allow the protesters to cross Independence Way. We are restricting them to the premises of Labour House,” a police officer who took position in front of the gate said.
But after a faceoff with the security agents, the protesters went marching through the major roads in the state capital and insisted on proceeding to the Government House, where they intended to submit their protest letter to the governor.
The protest led to an accident in which a journalist working with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) in Kaduna rammed into a group of security operatives.
The journalist, Hajiya Ummul Khairi, who was driving a Peugeot 307 to her office which is close to the NLC Secretariat lost control and ran into soldiers and policemen, damaging a police car.
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, while addressing the protesters, said, “We will not be intimidated by the heavy security presence sent to curb our protest. Anybody who thinks we cannot come out for the protest has malaria, and that malaria must be treated today. It is a welcome development because workers have seen that despite our olive hand of fellowship, to try to see how those issues are resolved on the table, we have seen that with impunity, the decision of the National Industrial Court is being set aside. With impunity, people are not allowed to exercise their freedom of association.”
The Counselor on Information and Communications to the state governor, Saidu Adamu, who received the protesters outside the Government House, collected the protesters’ letter and assured them that he would pass it to Governor Nasir El-Rufai.
He said the government tried to prevent the protest not to prevent workers from saying out their grievances, but to secure the state from unscrupulous elements who might take advantage of the protest to cause havoc.
The protest ended peacefully and normalcy returned to the state.