The police in Ebonyi State on Thursday attacked and beat up members of the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, who staged a peaceful protest in the state against the increase in pump price of petrol by the federal government.
The workers were intercepted by a team of police officers who attacked them near Pastoral Centre along the Abakaliki-Enugu Expressway as they were on a peaceful protest.
The police, Premium Times learnt, teargased the workers ceaselessly and beat up leaders of the union including the state chairman, Ikechukwu Nwafor, who was seen rolling on the ground as the police officers kicked and beat him.
He was later bundled into a waiting white Police Hillux van by four police officers and taken to the Police Headquarters in Abakaliki alongside about 15 other labour leaders.
The police claimed the workers did not obtain clearance to carry out the protest, an allegation debunked by Mr. Nwafor.
The workers had gathered as early as 8AM at their secretariat along the expressway and took off on the protest along the expressway.
One of the labour leaders, Greg Ishaya, was seen at the police station with minor injuries on his hands, which he said was from the attack.
Mr. Nwafor was in pain as he limped from knee injuries sustained during the attack.
The police commissioner denied that the workers were attacked.
He claimed that police used “minimal force” to disperse the crowd, and insisted that the protesters did not inform the police before embarking on the demonstration.
But Mr. Nwafor denied that claim. He said the union duly informed the police of the protest.
“We were on a peaceful demonstration against the increase in fuel pump price and electricity tariff when the police attacked us. We gave them a letter, I was calling the Commissioner and she didn’t pick my calls and we have evidence to that,” he said.
“What we were doing is a peaceful demonstration and all of a sudden the police came and attacked us. When we saw them we thought they were coming to protect us. They tear gassed us. They lifted me up and hit me on the ground and gave me a thorough beating.
Five of them later lifted me up and threw into their hillux van like a common criminal,” he said.