By Kolade Larewaju and Dayo Johnson
No fewer than 16 protesting workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) were Thursday arrested in Abeokuta, the Ogun capital by men of the State Police Command.
The workers under the aegis of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) were protesting the planned privatization of PHCN which they said would amount to giving away taxpayers’ money by President Goodluck Jonathan to his friends, loyalists and cronies.
The workers had planned the protest for the streets of Abeokuta, but later restrained themselves to the premises of their office on the MKO Abiola Way in the state capital where their leaders took turns to decry the planned privatization and answered questions from newsmen.
Some armed policemen were stationed at the junction leading to the Secretariat of the Union while the protest was going on while some other policemen were also stationed at the Imo Office of the PHCN where the protest was said to have been expected to start.
But no sooner than they finished addressing newsmen, armed policemen in a chartered bus swooped on the protesters and arrested about 16 of them while others managed to escape.
Among those that were said to have been arrested were Alhaji Fatai Abudu, Afolabi Dixon, Isaac Lambo, Akinsanya Oloyede, Wale Oyeledun, Akanni Liafiz, Alex Ogbebor and Sobayo Abiodun were immediately driven to the State Police Headquarters, Eleweran.
One of those arrested who spoke with Vanguard on phone confirmed that they were still being held at Eleweran late afternoon and that they were being asked to write statements.
But the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Mr. Olumuyiwa Adejobi said that the PHCN officials were not arrested but were only invited for quetioning.
He explained that the Commissioner of Police had invited them on Wednesday to tell them that they do not have any permission to do any protest and that when the workers went ahead to stage the protest, they were marely invited for them to explain why they went against the advice of the Commissioner.
Police distrupt PHCN workers rally in Ondo
Meanwhile at least 30 Policemen Thursday disrupted the rally of the Electricity Workers in Ondo state against the planned Privatization of Power Holdings Company of Nigeria PHCN by the Federal Government.
The policemen arrived the office of the Akure PHCN as early as 8am in eight Hilux vans and condoned off the entrance of the office.
The workers under the aegis of National Union of Electricity Workers (NUEE) and Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEC) were clad in red vests and chanted solidarity songs.
They were prevented from marching into the streets by the fully armed policemen but they displayed placards with inscription: ”Don’t allow Goodluck, Sambo and Nnaji to sell PHCN to themselves PHCN can work without Privatization”, amongst others.
Reports from all PHCN offices within Akure metropolis and other parts of the state indicated that work was paralyzed as a result of the workers’ rally.