The five-month-old crisis rocking the Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) took a new turn when about 38 striking staff of the institution were arrested last night by operatives from the Lagos State Police Command.
The striking workers were keeping vigil at the gate of LASPOTECH to prevent the Rector, Mr. Samuel Sogunro, and his management team from gaining access to their offices.
Daily Sun learnt that over 50 workers, which included members of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics (SSANIP), Non Academic Staff Union (NASU) and some members of Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) kept vigil at the gate on Wednesday and the policemen swooped on them and arrested 38 staff made up of 27 males and 11 females.
Last week, the striking workers locked the two main gates. Their action disrupted academic and administrative activities.
The closure forced the students to stage a protest at Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s office, pleading with him to resolve the five-month-old crisis.
One of the workers, who escaped arrest, told Daily Sun that the policemen stormed their gathering at 1.00am and fired teargas them before arresting the 38 staff.
He explained that the workers arrested by the police include union leaders and also the secretary of ASUP.
According to him, the arrested workers were first taken to a police station at Shagamu Road and later transferred to Panti, Yaba for interrogations.
He recalled that last week, while the workers were protesting at the main gate, the Divisional Police Office (DPO) and his men stormed the place in the afternoon, fired teargas to disperse the workers but could not make any arrest.
The Deputy Registrar, Information and Public Relations, Mr. Olanrewaju Kuye, confirmed the arrest of the workers but denied the involvement of the rector.
When Daily Sun contacted the state police public relations officer, Bala Elkana, and the Divisional Police Office, Omisakain, both claimed ignorance of the arrest.
Elkana promised to make inquiry and get back to our correspondent but as at the time of filing this report, he had not contacted Daily Sun. Meanwhile, the 38 LASPOTECH workers were charged to court by the police at Chief Magistrate Court, Ebute Meta. They were slammed with a-four count charge.
The workers were remanded in prison because their lawyer could not perfect the bail conditions.
Kuye told Daily Sun that it is not possible for the rector to lead the police to arrest the workers, stressing: “We have CSO, it is his job.”
He explained that the workers kept vigil, day and night, for the past one week, noting: “LASPOTECH is a state government institution, they don’t have the right to lock the gates and prevent government workers from entering the campus.”