International Solidarity for Peace and Human Rights Initiative has petitioned the Lagos State Police Commissioner, requesting for the release of twelve workers of Mouka Foam Limited, Lagos, detained since 13th August, 2021.
In a letter signed by Comrade Osmond Ugwu, the group’s Executive Director, the group asked the Commissioner of Police to intervene immediately to ensure the release of the men who were arrested during an industrial action by the workers of the industry which was aimed at getting the management restate the Chairman of the Union of the workers and another colleague of theirs reported to have been disengaged from work in an arbitrary manner by the management of the firm.
The petition reads:
“International Solidarity for Peace and Human Rights Initiative wish to formally bring to your notice as the Commissioner of Police, Lagos state, the arrest and unlawful detention of 5 members of Chemical and Footwear Workers Union of Nigeria, who are also members of staff of MOUKA FOAM Nigeria PLC and 7 Other workers of the firm, bringing the number of unlawful detainees to 12.
“The detainees were among 12 persons reported to have been arrested at the factory premises of MOUKA FOAM at Plot “M” Awosika Avenue, Ikeja Industrial Estate Lagos on 13th August, 2021 and since then have in detention till date.
“Information available to us was that 16 persons were arrested during an industrial action by the workers of the industry which was aimed at getting the management restate the Chairman of the Union of the workers and another colleague of theirs reported to have been disengaged from work in an arbitrary manner by the management of the firm.
“It was reported that instead of the management to engage the workers in dialogue as the rule of engagement in industrial relations prescribed all over the world especially in democratic and civilised Societies, resorted to arbitrarily engaging the services of Police and use them as instrument of intimidation and suppression of the workers.
“To buttress that, 16 persons were arrested on that same day, scene and time on 13th August, 2021 and out of the number 4 were released subsequently and 12 of them are still in detention in the same Police facility, Area “F” Area Command Ikeja till date.
“It was reported that every demands for the release of the “12” on bail on the same day hit the hard heart of one Supol Mathew, the IPO handling the matter on the reported influence and instruction of Chief Security Officer of MOUKA FOAM.
“We are shocked at this development because nobody will believe that any Police Officer in Nigeria, especially in Lagos can still be employed to settle civil related cases, especially the one that has to do with industrial conflict that supposed to be settled on a negotiation table, given the events that led to the EndSARS protests in Nigeria.
“This act of Police in Area”F” Area Command is a very condemnable one capable of eliciting serious crisis that can lead to another protest in Lagos state, in view of the new emerged Social consciousness and the level of Social bond social solidarity that has been created amongst social classes against social injustice especially the one that is related to Police brutality since the EndSARS protests of which the present case represents,. Police in Nigeria should consider the consequences of EndSARS protest which its social wounds are yet to heal and begin to do things in line with due process and rule of law.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the continued keeping of these men in detention since 13th August 2021 till grossly violates their fundamental human rights as by sections 34(2), 35, 40, 41 of 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as ammended, relevant articles of African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, United Nations Charter on Human Rights, International Convention on Civil and Political Rights among others of which Nigeria is signatory to.
“Consequent upon the foregoing, we demand that the 12 detainees be released immediately. They are:
1.Comrade Johnson Adeyemi
2. Comrade Matthew Olagoke
3.Comrade Timothy Datsaba
4. Comrade Segun Balogun
5. Comrade Hillary, etc.
“Recall that we called you through your phone number 08065668179 in the evening of 15th August, 2021 and you said that you were not aware of the Matter and directed that we should reach across to the Area Commander. We called the Area Commander, ACP Ali John Zong with the number, 08035865643 and the person who picked the call said he is Usman from Sokoto when we mentioned the case, denying being the Area Commander nor ACP Ali John Zong. That will be subjected to further verification.
“Presuming that the contact we had about the Area Commander were wrong, we are left with no other option than to bring the matter and our demand to you formally via this medium and ask you to use your powers as the Highest Officer in the hierarchy of the Police in Lagos State to order for the release of the detainees and transfer the matter to your office for proper investigation. We also call on you to investigate the allegation of influence of the MOUKA FOAM through the Chief Security Officer on SUPOL Mathew to deny the detainees bail despite the fact that the allegations against them are bailable offence that do not have any tendency of anybody interfering with process of investigation if released on bail except if he framed up trumped up charges against to justify their denial of bail and continued detention in violation of provisions of the Constitution.
“We want to know why they were denied bail on the 13th August they were arrested and had to be kept them in detention till now.
Let it also be clearly stated that prolonged keeping them in detention without justification amounts to brutality of a highest magnitude on them and their family members and has the potential of triggering off another level of mass protests against the police in the already fragile Society like Lagos State.
Those Copied in the petition include;Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria and Chairman of National Economic Council,Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International, etc