The five-month-old crisis rocking the Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) took a new twist when about 38 striking staff of the institution were arrested at the wee hours of the night by policemen 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.
Our correspondent 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 when 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 our correspondent that the policemen stormed their gathering at 1.00am and fired teargas before arresting the 38 staff.
He explained that among the workers arrested by the police included union leaders and also the secretary of ASUP.
According to him, the arrested workers were first taken to a police station on 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, Mr. Sogunro, and said it was the state government that gave the directive
When our correspondent contacted the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Bala Elkana, and the Divisional Police Officer, Omisakin, both claimed ignorance of the arrest.
The PPRO promised to make an inquiry and get back to our correspondent but as at the time of filling this report, he had not made contact.
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 said that it was not possible for the rector to lead the police to arrest the workers, stressing “we have a CSO, it is his job.”
He explained that the workers had kept at the gate for the past one week, noting that “LASPOTECH is a state-government institution; they don’t have the right to lock the gates and prevent government workers from entering the campus.”