Some members of the Association of Disengaged Contract Workers of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN) who took the grievance to the Headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) were at the weekend arrested and taken to the Federal Capital Territory Police command.
The disengaged staffs who were at NNPC Towers which equally house the Ministry of Petroleum Resource said they had a police permit obtained from the FTC Police command to carry out what they call a peaceful procession and press briefing over the non-payment of the end of service/ terminal benefits (entitlement).
According to the chairman of the retrenched workers Mr. Godwin Idem, the decision to stage a peaceful protest was borne out of the refusal of the minster of Petroleum’s decision not to help resolve the crisis which has been in existence since May 2012.
Addressing a rally at the front of the NNPC headquarters, Mr. Idem said members of his association were in Abuja to draw the action of the Minister and the management of NNPC to the disappointing situation the face.
The protesters who spent over one hour in the front the complex were not attended to as no officer of neither NNPC or the Minister of Petroleum Resources came to address them. However, a new twist was introduce as the protester who were accompanied by five police men was said the were assigned from the FTC Area Command attempted to take their protest to the American Embassy in Abuja.
This is as another set of police officers who claim to have come from the same FTC Area command come into the scene and accused the protesters of failure to secure police permit for the protest. Consequently, the protesters and the police who escorted them were taken away to the command headquarters.
However, the Solicitor/Attorney of the Disengaged workers Jacob Udobang Esq who later address a press conference revealed that in May 2012, Mobil laid-off 1,444 service contract staff in what it term the streamlining of its operations. Consequently series of discussions where held between the management of MPN and representatives of NUPENG, the umbrella body of oil workers where it was resolved that the disengaged workers be paid end of service/terminal benefit based on collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
“Unfortunately, MPN reneged on this agreement, instead, used the Officers of the Nigerian Police Force, Akwa Ibom State Nigeria to intimidate these citizen of Nigerian upon peaceful protest and procession demanding for their right in Eket, Akwa Ibom something in 2012 and coerced them to sign an unconstitutional undertaking in utter breach of the constitution of Nigeria which is the Grund Norm”
He expressed worry that what happened at the front of the NNPC’s headquarters is similar to what happened in Eket in 2012.
Reacting to the situation, the spokesperson of NNPC, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu claimed ignorance of the protest but wondered why they choose to come to the Corporation’s headquarter instead of going to ExxonMobil’s office.