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Railway workers give Enugu gov seven days to replace demolished property.

21st May 2024

PETER-MBAH-1

The workers of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, on Tuesday, issued a seven-day ultimatum to Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State to negotiate on how to replace all the property illegally demolished or be dragged to court.

The workers staged a peaceful protest to register their displeasure over the government’s impunity with which it demolished their offices, staff quarters, training schools, and workshops without any atom of respect or providing an alternative place for the staff now thrown into the street as gross human rights violation.

The workers who carried placards and chanted labour solidarity songs matched through the sight where staff quarters, workshops, and training schools were illegally demolished.

Addressing journalists at the site of the demolished properties, the President General, Nigerian Union of Railway Workers, Innocent Ajiji, described the demolition as outrageous and unacceptable, adding that the government carried the exercise with impunity.

Ajiji said that the government didn’t negotiate with the Railway Management or the workers’ unions.

He said, “We are here in Enugu today to protest the demolition of our property by the Enugu State Government. We have properties all over Nigeria, and if the government needs to invest in our property, there are processes. What are those processes? You pass through a process we have in our organisation that will permit you to have a document that can lead you to demolition or whatever you want to do on our land.

“So, but Enugu State Government, on a fateful day on Sunday, we were told that he came with bulldozers and started bulldozing our structures. Ten of our flats were involved in that demolition where people were living inside. We have a traffic training school that was demolished, and we have a carriage and wagon workshop that was demolished. We have a whole training school for the Civil Engineering Department, which was demolished, alongside ten three-bedroom flats that railway workers and some retirees live inside.

“We found this as totally unacceptable to us, and that is why we came; these houses are in litigation because we won them (railway management) at the Industrial Court, and of course, the judgment said those houses should be sold to us.

“So Railway Management and the Federal Government now took us to court, so you don’t have the right to come and temper with those properties until the determination of the court judgment. So, the Enugu State government didn’t take all those things into cognizance and went ahead with tempering those properties that were already covered by litigation.

“So it is unacceptable to us, and if you must temper with any of our structures, there are procedures, as I said, and if that was followed, at least, it could have been accepted by us because in other states, they demolish some of our houses, and they were replicated.

“They demolished some of our offices, and they were replicated, but we do not know the intention of the Enugu State government. He has not come to talk to anybody from our management side, they have not gone to talk to anybody from the Ministry of Transport, he just came and started trying to occupy our property.

“That is unacceptable to us, that is why we came here to protest to tell the whole world that we shall fight for our rights. We will not allow the Enugu State government to chase us out of work because when you start demolishing our offices Federal Government will see no need to keep us and pay us salary for doing nothing. So we will not accept him driving us out of work. That is why we are here.”

Also speaking, the President General, Senior Staff Association, NRC, Emeka Okeke, equally condemned the demolition.

He said, “The issues about MoU and compensations are all lies. We have made our inquiries, and all our people said they don’t know anything about the demolition. As far as they don’t meet us, we don’t believe they meet anybody.”



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