John Idumange, the General Manager, Radio Bayelsa “Glory FM”, on Friday confirmed that he flogged four union leaders of the station in self-defence.
Mr. Idumange told the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday in Yenagoa that the incident happened on Monday after the unions shut down the FM station operated by the state government.
The Radio Bayelsa Chapel of Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, and Radio Television and Theatre Arts Workers Union, RATTAWU, had alleged that Mr. Idumange was running the station outside public service rules.
Mr. Idumange, who explained the details of the incident to NAN, alleged that the unions in the station were working against his reforms aimed at repositioning the broadcast outfit.
“At about 7.20 p.m. on Monday, the day RATTAWU and NUJ embarked on strike, I heard voices near my window.
“So I went out to see what was happening. I saw four persons, one of them a lady.
“I could recognise Tonye Yemoleigha, one of the union leaders, who was on white shirt. I asked why they were there after chasing away all the workers,” he said.
According to him, “Tonye stood up and asked if the compound belonged to me. At that point I discovered he was ready for a fight but I did not bulge.
“He brought his hands near my eyes so I blocked it. I had learnt Karate years back. One of them threw a chair at me and they all rushed to fight me. I had to fight back in self-defence.
“They could have beaten me up but my Karate skills rescued me,” he said.
Mr. Idumange, who was appointed on December 6, 2016, claimed that he recently uncovered a N5.7 million fraud and redeployed some staff.
“The transferred workers have been meeting with them at NUJ Centre, they benefitted from the corruption and are fighting back,” Mr. Idumange said.
Reacting, Tonye Yemoleigha, the NUJ Chairman in Radio Bayelsa, said that the unions had reported the incident at Ekeki Police Division.
“Four of us, myself and three staff were flogged by Idumange himself. The report that it was thugs is inaccurate. It was the general manager himself that attacked and beat us up.
“We have reported the matter to the Ekeki Police Division and sought medical attention at the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa.
“Workers have been constantly intimidated and threatened for no just cause.
“Mr John Angese, Bayelsa Council Chairman of NUJ who is a staff of Radio Bayelsa, has also been threatened with a sack.
“We are all being victimised for insisting that the General Manager complies with Public Service Rules.
“We have been under siege since he was appointed on Dec. 6, 2016. We are not opposed to repositioning the station which is in our interest, but we want the procedure to follow due process,” Mr. Yemoleigha said.
NAN reports that after the station went off air, the management mobilised armed security officials and few employees who rebuffed the strike and reopened the station.
Mr. Yemoleigha said that workers of the station were not opposed to staff redeployment.
“But we are insisting that the unions should also be part of the process to ensure that the best hands are not sacrificed on the altar of nepotism, sentiment or witch-hunt.
“We are also aware of the alleged N5 million payroll fraud which Idumange claimed to have uncovered which has been referred to the Police for investigation.
“Ordinarily, in line with established procedures, an investigative panel should have been instituted to look into the matter and come up with a report with which management would act.
“All these are expressly spelt out in the Public Service Rules; however, we are also requesting for a copy of the police report after their investigation,” Mr. Yemoleigha said. (NAN)