(Oluseye Ojo, IBADAN)
The Chairman of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Mr. Waheed Olojede, and six other labour leaders in the state were on Friday arraigned before an Ibadan Magistrate Court in connection with the disruption of an education stakeholders forum organised by the state government on Wednesday.
Those arraigned with Olojede are the vice chairman of NLC in the state, Mr. Titilayo Sodo; the Secretary, Mrs. Kofoworola Ogundeji; the Auditor, Mr. Kehinde Oparinde, as well as Sikiru Bayo, Oseni Aderemi, Falade Akinyele, and Adegbogun Titi.
The labour leaders and hundreds of other members had stormed the venue of the education stakeholder meeting and booed out government officials and other stakeholders, as they turned the chairs and table at the venue upside down. They said the protest was against privatisation of public secondary schools in the state. But the state government said the plan was not to privatise, sell or commercialise the education in the state.
The prosecution counsel, M. A Ojeah, preferred a total of six-count charge against the accused, which bordered on alleged assault on the Secretary to the Oyo State Government, destruction of property, disruption of stakeholders’ meeting, chasing of participants, unlawful assembly and acts capable of breaching public peace.
The charge sheet stated that the accused allegedly destroyed chairs valued at N1million; disturbed public peace; assaulted the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Ismail Olalekan-Alli and ‘bear him with sticks,’ thereby causing him bodily harm; threatened the governor while holding meeting with stakeholders and assembled in an unlawful procession to the Oyo State Government Secretariat, carrying Nigeria Union of Teachers banners and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 88.
The defence counsel prayed the court to grant the accused bail because the offences are bailable and the police should release the phones of the accused seized from them on Thursday.
They were arraigned before Chief Magistrate, A.A. Adebisi. All the accused pleaded not guilty to the charges.
But the prosecution counsel opposed the application, saying though the offences are bailable, the accused caused bodily harm to the SSG, who was on admission in the hospital, they possessed international passports and could travel out of the country. He also said the seized phone should not be released to the accused because they would serve as exhibits.
The court, however, granted them bail in the sum of N200,000 with a surety that possesses a national identity card or voter card. The court also ordered police to return their phones to them and adjourned the case to June 24, 2016, for trial.