By Tunde Oyekola
A journalist working with Channels Television in Osogbo, Osun State, Mr. Oloyede Oyegbenle, was on Tuesday morning beaten to pulp at the entrance of the state secretariat, Abere in Osogbo, the state capital, by hoodlums. He was covering the strike called by Osun State Workers on Tuesday.
The hoodlums were said to be thugs hired by a faction of Labour leaders which called the strike, which began on Tuesday.
There was confusion at the entrance of the state secretariat over the declaration of a three-day warning strike declared by the workers over the delay in the payment of their salaries running to four months.
The labour leaders in the state had been polarized into two factions over the strike with each faction given order and counter order on the purported strike.
A faction of the union was led by Mr. Francis Adetunji while the other faction was under the control of Comrade Akinyemi Olatunji.
The two factions on Tuesday engaged each other in a free-for -all over the implementation of the strike as declared by Francis Adetunji.
WESTERN POST gathered that crisis broke out when a faction hired some people suspected to be hoodlums to enforce the strike as directed but the other group insisted that the planned strike was unnecessary at the moment.
During the melee, the thugs numbering about 10 conveyed to the main gate of the State Secretariat in TUC branded bus unleashed terror on journalists who were present to monitor the situation.
The thugs on sighting the journalists pounced on the cameraman of Channels Television, Mr. Oyegbenle, beating him before seizing his camera.
The hoodlums, said to have been led to the secretariat by three civil servants including Mr. Bimbo Olowookere, Bimbo Arapasogo and Idowu Ajomole; used bottles, pebbles and other dangerous weapons on the journalists at the venue, forcing everybody to run for safety.
Oyegbenle, who was dragged away from the scene by his colleagues, was treated briefly by an Osun State Ambulance and later taken to the State Hospital where he is currently receiving treatment.
It was in the process that the armed policemen who were mobilized to the scene dispatched the workers by firing tear gas canisters at them.
As at the time of filling this report, two of the civil servants who were said to have aided the hoodlums have been arrested and detained at the Ataoja Police Station.
Meanwhile, the state government has sued for peace among the labour leaders saying their action should be exhibited in a peaceful means and non-violent approach.
A statement issued by Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, Director, Bureau of Communication, Osun State, said the state was making frantic efforts to address the situation.
According to the statement, “it needs to be stated that Government has been making sterling efforts to address the demands of workers and retirees in the state and in no distant time, they shall be things of the past. Therefore, Government wishes to appeal to all concerned to allow for a little more time to find solutions to the challenges especially now that a new wind of change has blown at the federal level of government for the better management of the Nigerian common wealth.
“The Government wishes to state categorically that it recognizes the rights of workers to embark on strikes. The Government also believes that workers’ rights to express themselves however does not confer on them any opportunity to cause unrest and any form of the breach of the peace.
“It is on record that the Rauf Aregbesola-administration has instituted and implemented the most workers-friendly policies in the history of the state. And this government has left nothing hidden in its financial books to warrant any form of doubts on the sincerity of the government and its commitment to prompt payment of salaries and other allowances and full implementation of other incentives for maximum productivity.
“Labour leaders are also urged to conduct themselves in the most peaceful manner in order to sustain the cordial relationship that has contributed to the rapid growth of the state witnessed under this government”.