A nursing mother, Folorunsho Janet, and her two-year-old daughter, Folorunsho Ifeoluwa, are among 10 workers of the Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu, currently being detained by the Lagos State police command.
However, the police spokesperson in the state, Bala Elkana, has denied the allegation, saying it is not correct to speculate about the two-year-old being detained.
“How can a two-year-old be detained? Even if a pregnant woman is arrested, she would not be kept in the cell. But hold on, let me find out if a two-year-old is being detained.”
Mr Elkana said he would issue a statement on the matter, saying various individuals had been calling to know what transpired.
“But individuals can misinterpret the issue, so it is better I release a statement to avoid misinterpretation,” he said.
He said the alleged crime committed by the workers is a serious one, and that it goes beyond the issue of unionism.
The police had arrested the workers over a petition signed by the LASPOTECH chief security officer, Mike Ogunlade, who accused the workers of being responsible for the reported attack on the institution’s director of ICT- Adegoke Sikiru and two staffers of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).
PREMIUM TIMES had on Sunday reported the invitation of four members of the polytechnic’s chapter of the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU). They were; Muinat Ogunbambi-Ibrahim, Rauf Ayanda, Tobi Oremule, and Olalekan Tiamiyu.
However, on Monday, the number increased to 10 when the union leaders accompanied their invited colleagues to the Ikorodu-Sagamu road police station where they were moved to the state police command in Ikeja.
According to their lawyer, Adewale Okuwobi, of Akin Bajepade and Company, he had approached the police station, in company of the workers, to find out the grounds for their invitation.
Mr Okuwobi said; “But the DPO, Mr Adekunle Omisakin, addressed all of us, saying the police commissioner, Mr Zubairu Muazu, wanted to meet the workers just for dialogue.
“But, on getting to the commissioner’s office in the afternoon, he was not on ground. The matter was later referred to the CIB department, where the officers-in-charge changed the tone and insisted on detaining them including the baby.
“As I’m talking to you, they are yet to be arraigned. They told me they are still perfecting their papers.”
He listed other arrested workers to include the chairman of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnic (SSANIP), Abiodun Awoyemi; his vice, Seye Ero-Phillips, and NASU chairman, Semiu Fasasi. Others are Salami Olugbenga of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP) and Alawada Abimbola.
JAMB had on April 1 accused the workers of attempting to set two of its workers ablaze while they were getting the school’s CBT centre prepared for the UTME mock examination.
According to JAMB Registrar, Ishaq Oloyede, the development led to suspension of the polytechnic from taking part in its ongoing 2019 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination.
But in its response to PREMIUM TIMES enquiry, the leaderships of both SSANIP and NASU had described the allegation as blatant lie. They accused the college management of attempting to frame them up, especially in the face of the three-month-old industrial action on the campus.
The workers downed their tools in January over what they described as the highhandedness of the polytechnic management and the non-implementation of CONTISS 15 migration.
Meanwhile, the Joint Action Front, a labour rights group, has kicked against what it described as the harassment of the workers by the institution’s management.
A statement issued by the group and signed by its chairperson and secretary, Dipo Fashina and Abiodun Aremu respectively, urged JAMB to steer clear of the crises rocking the polytechnic.
The statement reads in part; “The Joint Action Front (JAF) deplores the arrest and continued detention by the Lagos State Police Command of eight (8) Union leaders of the Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) Ikorodu, which was effected yesterday afternoon, April 15, 2019.
“The union leaders who are members of Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnics (SSANIP) and Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) were arrested on trumped up charges of alleged attack against a staff of JAMB in the course of the ongoing strike action by the three unions over disregard and undermining of collective agreements on staff salaries and owed allowances by the highhanded LASPOTECH authority.”
JAF accused the polytechnic management of illegally militarising the institution, and that despite outcry by the staff and students, the Lagos State government refused to act.
“We demand that the Lagos Government has a responsibility to arrest the degenerating violent reign of terrors in LASPOTECH now before more staff and students become victims of framed up attacks,” the statement added.