Again Nigeria Opens Fire On And Kills Unarmed Protesters

Police have been sidelined as their duty has been handed over to the army

Police in Nasarawa State on Friday shot four workers as the Nigeria Labour Congress began talks with the state government over the protracted labour crisis rocking the state.

NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, told journalists at the police clinic in Lafia that the workers were shot by a policeman at the gate of the Government House where they had gone to wait for the outcome of the NLC meeting with Gov. Umaru Al-Makura.

Workers in the state had embarked on an indefinite strike following the decision of the state government to slash their salary by 50 per cent.

According to Mr. Wabba, one of the workers died, while three others, including a woman, were being treated for gunshot wounds at the clinic.

He said the dead victim was a staff of the state Ministry of Education, while the three others who sustained gunshot wounds included a staff of Doma Local Government Council, the Judicial Service Commission and a journalist with the defunct Nigerian Newsday, a state-owned media outfit.

“The workers were unarmed and peacefully protesting for their rights only to be shot at by policemen stationed at the government house gate.

“We do not know what prompted them to shoot at unarmed workers who were waiting for us to finish discussion with the state government over the issue of their emoluments.

“They were attacked with maximum force. You can see one dead, two critically injured. They were very peaceful, unfortunately the police, under whatever pretense opened fire. It is most unfortunate,” he said.

Mr. Wabba said when the NLC officials got wind of the incident and approached the Commissioner of Police, Abubakar Bello, he said there was no casualty.

The NLC boss called on the police authority to fish out those responsible for the shooting or face a nationwide protest by the congress.

“The rules of engagement in such a situation must be adhered to as everybody around the world has a right to protest. These workers have a right under the law,” he said.

Mr. Wabba appealed to workers to remain calm and law abiding as the national leadership would take up the issue and will inform them on the next line of action.

Reacting over the alleged shooting, the Commissioner of Police, Abubakar Bello, said he was yet to be briefed as he was attending the meeting between NLC and the state government.

He said the command would investigate to ascertain what really transpired.