By; Bayo Akamo, Ibadan.
The Oyo state Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Waheed Olojede and six other labour leaders in the state granted bail on Friday after being arraigned by the State Police Command before an Oyo State Senior magistrate’s court sitting in Ibadan are now at Agodi prison custody.
Already, the state NLC on Saturday called on all well meaning Nigerians especially the people of Oyo state to prevail on Governor Abiola Ajimobi to release the 7 incarcerated labour leader “unconditionally”.
New Nigerian gathered that the labour leaders were moved to Agodi Prison on Friday following the reported inability of the police to verify the authenticity of the national identity card or voter cards provided by their sureties before the court closed for the day.
Addressing a press conference at the state NLC Secretariat on Saturday, the NLC Vice Chairman Comrade Bosun Daramola confirmed that the 7 arraigned NLC leaders are now at Agodi prison custody.
“It is with a heavy heart that we address you at this press conference organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC the Oyo State council to disabuse the minds of the general public over the 7 count trumped-up charges instituted by the Oyo State Government against some leaders of our Union who were detained in the police custody from 2nd June to the early hour of 3rd of June, 2016 before they were taken to Magistrate court in Iyagangu from where they were moved to Agodi Prison where they are currently incarcerated” he said.
The NLC Vice Chairman declared that it was unfortunate that the 7 NLC leaders were hurriedly moved to Agodi prison for continuous incarceration despite the bail granted them by the trial Chief Magistrate handling the case.
“We must state that despite the opposition by the counsel to the Oyo State government and the Police in the case against the grant of bail in the case, the Chief Magistrate agreed with our team of lawyers that the allegations against our leaders were bailable and admitted each of our leaders to bail in the sum of N200,000.00 with two sureties in like sum, who must show evidence of being Oyo State Government taxpayers, whose copies of work and national identity cards must be attached to the bail bond. Members of our union voluntarily made themselves available as sureties”.
He alleged the Oyo state government of being behind the sudden twist in the bail issue after it was granted,saying,“our fears were however confirmed when the bail bonds were sent to the magistrate and he turned it down on the ground that the police prosecutor should first verify the addresses of the sureties, a condition that was not part of the original condition of bail given by the magistrate”.
“We immediately made a 18 seater air conditioned bus available for the verification of addresses, but to our further chagrin, the police prosecutor appointed for the duty said he could not go alone and that he wanted to call another police personel from the next court to follow him. He thereafter DISAPPEARED as if he was under instructions!
“We, together with our lawyers embarked on massive search around every part of the courts compound for the police officer without success, only for him to resurface after over two hours, around five minutes to 4pm, when it was obvious that the Magistrate would close from court at 4pm!”
It will be recalled that Magistrate A A Adeniyi had earlier Friday granted the seven labour leaders bail in the sum of N200,000 with a surety that possesses a national identity card or voter cards.
The Labour leaders were arraigned on a six-count charge of 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.
Prosecution Counsel,Mr M. A Ojeah in the charge sheet accused the labour leaders of allegedly destroying chairs valued at N1million,disturbing public peace; assaulted the SSG, Olalekan Alli and beating him with sticks thereby causing him bodily harm; threatening the governor while holding meeting with stakeholders and assemble 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.All the labour leaders namely Comrades Waheed Olojede, Sikiru Bayo Titilola Sodo, Oseni Aderemi, Oparinde Kehinde, Falade Akinyele, Ogundeji Kofoworola and Adegbogun Titipleaded not guilty to the six count charge.
The Labour leaders were arrested and detained by men of the state Police Command on Thursday after honouring an invitation by the state Police Commissioner, Mr Leye Oyebade in connection with the Wednesday disruption of the education stakeholders forum organized by the state government on its Public Private Partnership and return of public secondary schools in the state.