The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing on Sunday condemned an attack by some protesters on the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry (Power), Mr Louis Edozien and other top officials of the Ministry.
In a statement signed by the Director of Press in the Ministry, Mr. Timothy Oyedeji, the Ministry said it was an affront on the Federal Government that its officials on lawful duty could be so attacked by whatever group under the guise of unionism, the Ministry averred that the culprits will be brought to book.
Accordingly, a report of the incident has been submitted to the Inspector General of Police, it stated:
Giving an insight into how the incident occurred, the Ministry explained that its officials led by the Permanent Secretary were attacked on Friday March 18th 2016 by some members of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) while trying to move into a new office of the Ministry located at Plot 441, 14 Zambezi Crescent, Maitama District, Abuja.
“At 10:35 on Friday March 18 2016, the Permanent Secretary (Power), in company of the Director, General Service, Director, Special Duties, Chief Confidential Secretary to the Permanent Secretary, and other officers of the Ministry arrived at the Building to inspect the readiness of the offices for occupation.
“Shortly after arriving, after inspecting the Permanent Secretary’s office and upon attempting to inspect the space allocated for the Permanent Secretary’s Registry, members of NUEE confronted the officials of the Ministry demanding that they vacate the premises.
“The Permanent Secretary (Power) invited the leaders of the group back into his office with the intention of engaging them in dialogue to resolve any legitimate grievances they may have.
According to the Ministry, the Permanent Secretary and the other Ministry officials had invited the leader of the group into the Permanent Secretary’s office for dialogue which was abused as he came in with other unruly members of his group.
“The leader of the mob stated that he is the Chairman of the FCT Chapter of NUEE, that he is under instructions, and all the persons with him are under his instructions, to violently resist the Permanent Secretary’s presence in the Building,” it stated.
Various members of the mob who claimed to be NUEE members and leaders took turns hurling insults at the Permanent Secretary and the other officials of the Ministry, threatening to throw them out the 4th floor window of the Permanent Secretary’s office and eventually assaulted him and others with him.
Noting that nothing should have warranted such criminal conduct, the Ministry pointed out that the Federal Government has substantially complied with its obligations under the agreement it entered into with NUEE and SSAEAC on December 11, 2012 and has paid off 46,772 PHCN workers, or 98% of them, at a total cost to the Nigerian public of N393 billion.
It noted that most of the workers notwithstanding the pay off, remain in the employ of or under contract with the various successor companies of the erstwhile Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), including the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
“The attack therefore is unwarranted and criminal and has been reported to the law enforcement agencies for investigation and prosecution,” Oyedeji stated.
“Government, particularly this Administration, is in full support of the legitimate rights of Nigerian workers to peacefully organize and advocate for better working conditions but those legitimate rights should not be denigrated by those who wish to exploit them to engage in criminal misconduct, or affront on the authority of the Federal Government of Nigeria,” it added.