Aggrieved workers of Julius Berger residing at Berger Camp, Kubwa, on Thursday, chased out a team of security personnel sent by the management of the company to disconnect utility services in the camp.
Kenneth Ekekwem, one of the leaders of the workers, told the News Agency of Nigeria that the security team was led by Ojo Samuel, security supervisor in Julius Berger.
He said that Mr. Samuel drove into the camp at 8 a.m. in a white Golf Julius Berger car (JB B2741) to remove electrical installation including refuse bins used by workers living in the camp.
Ekekwem told NAN that representatives of the workers on Wednesday met with members of the House of Representatives Committee on Public Petition.
“We went there to defend the petition we sent to the committee; the management of Julius Berger was also there.
“The committee ordered that Julius Berger should stay action on its plan to eject the workers today (Thursday).
“It also ordered Julius Berger to cancel whatever action it intended to carry out today; members of the committee say they will visit the camp by 12 noon on Monday next week.
“The committee directed that the Managing Director of Julius Berger should also be at the camp.
“The committee said it will look into conditions in the camp and condition of the workers residing in the camp.”
Ekekwem said that the workers were shocked when they saw a crane belonging to the company, a refuse van and two articulated vehicles drive into the camp as early as 8 a.m. on Thursday.
“The vehicles were driven to the Generator House to disconnect and remove electric parts including transformers.
“One of the transformers was donated by Bwari Area Council, but Julius Berger management refused to connect it for our use.
“The transformer currently in use in the camp was bought by the workers who contributed N5,000 each,” he said, adding that the workers mobilised and chased the drivers and their vehicles from the camp.
Ekekwem said that when the workers prevented Mr. Samuel and his team from cutting off their electricity supply, he went to the Nigeria Police Mobile Unit to report that there was riot at the camp.
“Officers of the mobile police immediately rushed to the camp battle ready, but they met us sitting peacefully.
“We told them we are not rioting but fighting for our right; they left and urged us to remain peaceful.
“We called and informed Musa Dikko, the Bwari Area Council (chairman), who immediately dispatched the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) and his team to the camp.
“We told the DPO and his team what transpired and they also urged us to remain calm and peaceful,” Ekekwem added.
NAN recalls that in 1999 the management of Julius Berger sacked 7,200 workers without paying them their terminal benefits.
On June 16, this year, the Coordinating Secretary of the workers, Sunday Gbangbala, told NAN that the workers approached an Abuja High Court which gave judgment in their favour.
Gbangbala added that dissatisfied with the judgment of the High Court, the management of Julius Berger approached the Court of Appeal and also lost the case. “The matter is already at the Supreme Court which is yet to deliver its judgment.
“On June 13, 2016, Julius Berger approached a Wuse Magistrates’ Court to evict us from our apartments, but the court ordered the company to maintain the status quo,’’ Gbangbala said.
On November 23, a delegation of the workers visited the chairman, National Human Right Commission to file a petition.
Their visit coincided with the visit of members of the House of Representatives Committee on Human Rights to the commission.
Edward Pwajok, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Human Rights, promised that his committee would investigate the issues raised by the protesters.
“It is not proper for people to treat Nigerian workers in our country anyhow; we will ensure there is justice in this matter.
“We came here to see what the commission is doing and coincidentally met this issue of foreign companies treating Nigerians with impunity.
“Thank God we are in a democracy; we will fight this cause on your behalf; I urge you to remain law abiding Nigerians.
“You are here to seek redress and redress you shall get,” Pwajok assured.