Security was yesterday strengthened in and around government offices in Ekiti State, following tension over an attempt to break the ongoing workers’ strike.
Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) were deployed to the state secretariat, House of Assembly complex and the new Governor’s Office, which was seen as a move to stop labour from picketing the facilities.
Several police Toyota Hilux vans with full compliments of battle-ready anti-riot policemen stood guard at the offices. They frisked those entering and conducted thorough search on vehicles.
Officials of the state councils of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Joint Negotiating Council (JNC) have been moving round offices to ensure compliance with the strike.
They chased away some workers performing skeletal duties.
The latest tension was sparked by a circular released on Tuesday by the Head of Service, Gbenga Faseluka, ordering Grade Level 13 officers and above and those on essential services to return to their duty posts.
But the state police command claimed that the action was not aimed at stopping the picketing of Labour, but “a routine security work”.
Police spokesman Alberto Adeyemi explained that the security measure was taken to protect government property and prevent nefarious activities against government offices since the workers are on strike.
The NLC Chairman Ade Adesanmi said the police cannot stop labour from enforcing compliance with the strike, saying the “security beef-up is not a barrier”.
Adesanmi said: “We won’t stop the police from doing their job, but they should not also disturb us , because we are only exercising our rights.
“All the actions we had carried out were peaceful ones. We did not threaten or disrupt public peace. So, police deployment is not a barrier”.
The labour chief flayed the order by Head of Service, saying civil servants would benefit from the struggle at the end of the day.
Defying the strike, according to him, amounts to “betrayal of trust.”