How ‘thugs’ attacked protesters at Ngige’s residence

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Suspected thugs attacked protesting members of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) at the residence of Chris Ngige, minister of labour, on Wednesday.

Suspected thugs attacked protesting members of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) at the residence of Chris Ngige, minister of labour, on Wednesday.

Minister of Labour Chris Ngige
Minister of Labour Chris Ngige

The protesters picketed the Abuja residence of the minister over the alleged exclusion of a member of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) from the board.

Ngige inaugurated the 11-member board in April, 18 months after President Muhammadu Buhari appointed persons to occupy positions on the board.

The minister had initially refused to inaugurate the NSITF board following allegations of “monumental fraud”.

The leadership of NLC had accused Ngige of deliberately refusing to inaugurate Frank Kokori as chairman of the board, asking him to reconsider his action.

On Wednesday, NLC members staged a protest on the street where Ngige’s house is located, using two petrol tankers to barricade his residence.

During the process, suspected thugs broke lose, attacking anyone in sight, including journalists.

Ayuba Wabba, NLC president and Eniredonana Williams, his NUPENG counterpart, who led the protesters, alleged that the thugs were mobilised to rough handle any labour member found within the area or the minister’s residence.

Wabba said some of the wounded protesters were receiving treatment in the hospital.

“The act today is barbaric; where maximum force has been used on workers. And live bullets have been used on them,” Wabba said.

“They were carrying weapons and arms. And as I talk to you, we have four people in the hospital apart from those that were injured by bullets. You can see all of them are here and clearly, we are going to invite our largest organ by tomorrow.

“We are also going on a larger scale of action. Instead of protecting us, he is against us. Therefore, we have nothing to do with him and under the circumstance, except the president intervenes, workers are going to down tool.

“That is why we are inciting our central working committee. It has never been so bad where the ministry of Labour will bring thugs to attack workers. That has never been heard.

“It is on record and everybody has seen. Clearly, that is our position and now we are here to demonstrate in his office also that we are not happy and Mr president must act on this immediately.

“Workers voted and supported him. Ngige cannot in any circumstance assume the power of the president. That cannot be the case.”

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