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COPS DISRUPT STRIKING ACADEMIC STAFF RALLY IN OSOGBO

By NBF News
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Armed police personnel of the Osun State Police Command yesterday disrupted a peaceful rally by the striking academic staff in the four state-owned tertiary institutions to enlighten the public about their predicament.

The striking staff of the four institutions stormed Osogbo to stage a peaceful rally, with members carrying placards with various inscriptions condemning the state government's attitude to their plight.

Academic staff of Osun State Polytechnic, Iree, Osun State College of Technology, Esa-Oke and colleges of education at Ilesa and Ila, on August 10, began an indefinite strike to press home the implementation of their demands.

The armed security personnel, led by one Musa Okenne, ambushed the striking academic staff along Iwo Road with the placards to sensitize people about their plight and the state of facilities in the education sector of the state

For over 20 minutes, the armed security personnel prevented the striking academic staff from continuing with the rally, saying they had orders from above to stop the protest and the lecturers questioned the policemen why they should disrupt a peaceful rally. The leaders of the unions told the policemen that a letter in respect of the rally was submitted to the Commissioner of Police to inform him and also request the provision of security cover during the rally but Musa Okenne insisted the protest must end.

Confirming the disruption of the rally by the policemen, the Public Relations Officer of Council of Academic Staff Unions Osun State Owned Tertiary Institutions (CASUOSTI), Olubisi Ige told Daily Sun that the reason the security personnel gave for disrupting the rally was the precarious security situation in the state and the order from above to dispatch them.

The leader of the police warned the striking lecturers that he would deal with them if they failed to stop the rally and dispatch but the situation was saved by the arrival of the Osogbo Area commander, who calmed the tension and appealed to the unions to avert any crisis.

According to him, a notification letter, dated September 5, requesting for police protection for the rally was submitted at the police commissioner's office and that while the staff unions were meeting at Iree Poly, a detachment of police team came to the venue and the striking lecturers told them their protection was required at the starting point of the rally at NUJ, Iwo Road.

Ige, who is also the branch Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic of Iree Poly said if the police had not aborted the peaceful rally, the striking academic staff would have gone round the major areas as far as Oke Afia and Olaiya Junction. Earlier, the leaders of CASUOSTI addressed newsmen at the outside the NUJ Press Centre and they chided the Aregbesola's administration reneging from his promise to implement the demands and that since the strike started on August 10, government has not invited them for discussion.

The state chairman of CASUOSTI and the scribe Comrade Jacob Jekayinoluwa and Comrade Rufus Oyeniran insisted the four week old strike has nothing to do with the minimum wage but on the terrible conditions of service of its members and the refusal of Aregbesola administration to implement their demands.

Among the demands are 7 per cent peculiar academic allowance, new salary package of CONTISS 2007 and CONPOCASS 2009, retirement age of 65 approved by the Federal Government and NBTE, revision of officers from 15 to 14 at the point of retirement, staff welfare. Other issues in contention include autonomy be granted to state owned institutions as applicable to others tertiary institutions, implementation of pension scheme for members thus CASUOSTI urged the governor to address the demands without further delay.