The Nigerian Police last weekend opened fire on protesting workers of Chi Limited, makers of Chivita juice at Ajao Estate in Lagos killing one, while others sustained injuries. The deceased, one Osikoya who was said to have joined the company as a casual staff last month died hours later due to excessive bleeding from the gunshots.
Sources said that the workers had last Friday started a protest against unfair treatment to them by the management of the company. The sources said that the casual workers were not happy that the management was only interested in the welfare of the full-time staff and neglecting them.
“What sparked the protest this time was the distribution of Christmas gifts to the regular workers and abandoning the casual workers. This led to an agreement by the casual workers to go home with any carton of the company’s product each”, the source said.
It was at this point that the internal security unsuccessfully tried to stop them, hence the police was invited to calm the situation.
Meanwhile the company had temporarily stopped production with management wary about the movement of its vehicles for product distribution for fear of attacks.
A statement from the company signed by its Group Head, Corporate Affairs, Bode Sojobi narrates the company’s side of the incident. It said, on the evening of Friday, December 30, 2016, some workers succeeded in forcefully taking away several cartons of company products, damaging company property and endangering the lives of other personnel within the premises in the process.
As a result of this incident, management decided to enhance security around the factory by reporting the case to the Nigerian Police Station at Ajao Estate, which responded by placing their men outside the entrance of the factory to avert further looting.
“The night shift workers resumed work without problems until 4:30 am when some of them decided to stop work two hours to the end of the shift, switched off the lights and proceeded to cart away company’s products without authorisation. In the course of doing this, they attacked other personnel in the premises and police men deployed to prevent further danger to lives and property”.
It said in the statement that the internal security personnel tried without success to persuade them to have a re-think. “When they over-powered the internal security men, the members of the Nigerian Police Force at the gate stepped in to bring the situation under control”
In the course of the encounter with the police, two of the workers sustained gunshot wounds and according to the statement they were rushed to a nearby company-retained hospital for treatment. “One of the injured workers is in stable condition in the hospital. The second injured worker was subsequently referred to a Teaching Hospital and was conveyed there in the company’s ambulance. Sadly, he later passed on”.
“As an organisation that places high premium on human life, the death is immensely painful to us. Management immediately sent a delegation to condole with the family of the deceased
“We are surprised and saddened by this event because prior to this incident there had been no dispute between the company and its workforce. We later learnt that some workers felt that there had been discrimination in the distribution of products of the company as Christmas gifts, and then decided without authorisation to take company products for themselves as their own Christmas gifts.
“We are currently engaging with all parties and stakeholders to better understand what went wrong and address any related issues”, the company said.