By George Onah
Port Harcourtâ€”No fewer than 70 male and female ex-trainees of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, have vowed to sue the commission over alleged ill treatment, high handedness and illegal detention over their peaceful requests to see the Managing Director at its premises.
In an online statement from the group to Vanguard, yesterday, signed by the President, National Union of NDDC Skills Acquisition Trainees, Whyte Diepreye, the youths said the management allegedly ordered mobile policemen to tear-gas them last Tuesday, injuring many of them in the process, and some critically.
They said: â€œTwelve of our leaders, including the president, who were invited into the office, with a promise to see the MD and his directors, were rounded up and taken to Mopol 19 headquarters, later to Elekahia Police Station and Olu Obasanjo Police Station.
â€œWe were later taken back to Mopol 19 Headquarters where we were finally detained till the next day, Wednesday. The reason for the movement, as we later gathered from the various DPOs, was because the NDDC Mopol men could not explain who ordered our arrest and detention but merely said order from above.â€
The former trainees said they went to the commission to request for collection of their cheques, which formed part of the money to equip and empower them to take offÂ trades, explaining that they had been promised over time by the MD to collect the cheques.
â€œHaving come from long distances, we insisted on seeing the MD as we were sure that he was in the commission, but were told that he could not see us and when we requested to see any senior official who could speak with us, they refused.
â€œAfter ushering us, the leaders,Â through the third gate, there was a sudden tear gassing of our colleagues outside, including a pregnant woman and an asthmatic patient, causing some of them to collapse, in the ensuing melee, after which we were now told that we had been arrested, and the torture started,â€ the trainees alleged.
Vanguard gathered that over 15,000 of the boys and girls from the Niger Delta states were trained between 2004 and 2005 in various skills, including, computer, air conditioner repairs, agriculture, hair dressing, catering and tailoring, amongst others.