Hundreds of youths and about 500 support staff on Wednesday shut down commercial activities at the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company, Ekpan, Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State, over alleged management’s failure to regularise their engagements.
The protesters, drawn from across the Niger Delta states, vowed to continue with their protest and ensure that major activities at the refinery remain paralysed until the management of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation wades in immediately resolves the issue.
Our correspondent observed that the protesters had all entrances into the refinery under lock and key, accusing the management of NNPC of reneging on an agreement to convert the contract staff into full staff of the company.
The casual workers, including members of the host communities (Ekpan, Ubeji, Aja-Etan, Ifie-Kporo and Ijala-Ikeren), rebuffed efforts by security operatives, including policemen and officers of the Nigerian Army, to have them vacate the major entrance into the refinery.
The National Secretary of the Itsekiri National Youth Council, Jemi Mene-Ejegi, told journalists that they would not vacate the premises until Managing Director of NNPC visits the refinery to address the matter.
Mene-Ejegi said, “Initially, we wrote a letter and they called us, excluding the casual staff, that the issue will be resolved.
“We told them to attend to the casual staff first. The second time, the same thing happened, which prompted the first protest.”
Addressing the protesters, WRPC’s Chief Security Officer, Hope Akpodiete; and Administrative Manager, Solomon Siakpere, pleaded with the protesters to allow officials who had engagement to be allowed to go ahead.
The protesters ignored their pleas.
When contacted over the demands of the protesters, NNPC spokesman, Ndu Ughamadu, said there was no discrimination in the corporation’s recruitment process, saying that he was not aware of any agreement to convert casual workers to full employee.
Ughamadu said, “We have been announcing the various stages for recruitment. In that advertisement, it was thrown open for all the staff and they were asked to apply. How many of them applied?
“The casuals were also invited; but that aside, we have engaged them. We told them that after this exercise, there is another stage.
“If they didn’t fall into the first category, they may fall into the second category. That is what we are on. We don’t have casuals only in Warri Refinery, we have casuals in all of our subsidiaries, including the headquarters and many of them applied, and they are undergoing interviews now.
“There’s no discrimination in the process. I am not aware if there was any agreement with them.
“I’m appealing to them to exercise restraint. We’ll continue to engage them to ensure that amicable resolution is reached.”
Buhari may repeal Land Use Act for Ruga, SMBLF alleges
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has said there is a surreptitious plan by the Federal Government to repeal the Land Use Act and take over the control of lands in the country from state governors.
This, it said, was to enable the government to subsequently implement the suspended Ruga project.
The forum said it gathered that the FG suspended the Ruga Settlement Programme due to the Act which restricted its access to land, adding that the government may move to repeal the law in order to facilitate the implementation of the Ruga grazing scheme.
SMBLF cautioned Southern lawmakers in the National Assembly to be vigilant and to guard against the introduction of any bill intended to repeal or amend the Land Use Act.
The forum said this in a statement in Abuja on Sunday by its co-spokespersons: Yinka Odumakin (South West), Prof. Chigozie Ogbu (South East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South South), Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt).
The group stated that it was not impressed by the suspension of the Ruga Settlement Project, which it declared as “an expansionist agenda on behalf of the Fulani nomads.”
The statement reads, “It is being alleged that there will be moves to repeal the Land Use Act in the (Ruga) suspension period so the Federal Government can have authority over land which is currently under the states.
“We therefore call on all our members in the National Assembly to be vigilant about any surreptitious bill that may be introduced to tamper with control of land and thwart such without any waste of time.
“The 2014 National Conference debated this issue at length and resolved to retain the Land Use Act in the Constitution.”
The forum further warned the lawmakers against passing the ‘Bill to establish a Regulatory Framework for the Water Resources Sector in Nigeria,’ sponsored by the executive, noting that it was meant to give the FG sole authority and control over the nation’s rivers and underground water.
The group added, “When this obnoxious Water Bill is taken alongside the Ruga programme and the speculated assault on Land Use Act, the internal colonialism agenda is complete and we would have no one but ourselves to blame if we don’t effect our no-pasaran (They shall not pass — a slogan used to express determination to defend a position against an enemy).
“It is pertinent to ask why the FG is not going ahead with Ruga in some northern states that have accepted the policy if the whole idea was not about land-grabbing in the South and Middle Belt states,” it said.
The political pressure group stated that the FG’s support for local government autonomy was hinged on the Ruga scheme to allow “aliens” to take over allotted land under the programme.
It vowed not to relax its opposition to the project, stressing that only outright cancellation of the initiative was acceptable to the forum.
“The whole policy has opened our eyes to the reason why the President has been harping on local government autonomy now and then,” the group stressed.
Insecurity: Buhari vows Serious punishment on murderous herders, terrorists
…Salutes army on 156th anniversary
President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday vowed that the federal government will not allow anyone who kills or maim another under any guise to go unpunished.
He spoke at the 2019 Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL) held at the Ikeja Cantonment, Lagos, in commemoration of the service’s 156th anniversary.
Buhari who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the federal government was working seriously with other states to contain herders-farmers conflicts, banditry and terrorism saluting the army for its efforts to save the country from disintegration.
He said: “Nobody will be allowed to maim, kill or commit other crimes and escape. It is our duty to apprehend and punish these criminals and we are doing and will continue to do so.
“Herder and farmer conflicts, random killings, banditry and kidnapping some attributed to Fulani bandits, in different parts of the country are extant challenges that the army has had to intervene in on several occasions. I want to reassure all Nigerians that these issues are being seriously tackled by the Federal Government, working with the states, through a multi-pronged approach.
“You will be hearing a lot more about these solutions in the weeks and months ahead. Law enforcement is of course an important element of the response.
“We have seen an unprecedented ramping up of the deployment of military personnel- multi-agency intervention squads like Operation Whirlstroke. The training and deployment of Special Forces, new Forward Operating Bases, and so on – to the flashpoints, in the last eighteen months.
“Several bandits’ hideouts and camps have been destroyed, and hundreds of arrests have been made, and it is now up to our judicial systems to ensure that justice is meted out not just comprehensively but also in a timely manner.”
COZA: Police investigate rape allegation as Busola Dakolo files complaint
The police have commenced investigation into the allegation of rape against Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) founder Pastor Biodun by celebrity photographer Mrs. Busola Dakolo.
The commencement followed an official complaint filed by Mrs. Dakolo at the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID), Alagbon in Lagos.
A source, who hinted on the development, told our correspondent that the investigation would be thorough.
He stated that the police now have something to build a case on.
It was gathered that she was accompanied by her husband Mr. Timi Dakolo, a popular music artist, who also took to his verified Instagram account to refute reports that Fatoyinbo joined him and his wife in holy matrimony.
Dakolo also denied ever attending COZA nor meeting Fatoyinbo, describing all the counter stories as desperate attempts to cover the truth.