Queues have surfaced in some filling stations in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, following a directive by the Eastern Zone of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, to its members in the state to suspend loading and distribution of products.
Chairman of the union, Mr Godwin Eruba, said members took the action to protest alleged police harassment of its members at the premises of an oil firm, Weatherford Nigeria Limited.
He said members were picketing the firm over labour related issues when policemen allegedly started molesting the union members.
Similarly, national industrial officer of NUPENG, Mr. Bassey Harry, said the strike which commenced yesterday, would only be suspended when the police officers who harassed the union members were made to face the law.
The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, has expressed support for NUPENG’s action, saying the Rivers State Government, Commissioner of Police and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, should step in to resolve the crisis.
State Chairman of TUC, Mr Chika Unuegbu, said it was shocked that the Police could be so ruthless over a labour related issue.
The Police on its part denied that its men harassed members of the union.
Police spokesman in the state, DSP Ahmad Muhammad, said the Police only made effort to assist bailiffs/officials to enforce a court verdict from the National Industrial Court, Yenegoa, Bayelsa State.
DSP Muhammad explained in a statement that the court officials requested the assistance of the Police, adding that the police merely ensured that there was no break down of law and order while the bailiffs and court officials went about their assignments.
“It is relevant to state that the Rivers State Police Command acted on the request of court bailiffs to enforce a court judgment delivered by Justice J. T. Agbambu-Fishim of the National Industrial Court, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. In such circumstances, it is the constitutional mandate of the Police to maintain law and order during the execution of the court judgment which was purely done by the court bailiffs without police actually taking part in the execution. The Police were merely performing their constitutional duties in line with the principles of natural justice and rule of law,” he said.