No fewer than seven staff of Dangote Cement, Obajana in Kogi state were shot and several others injured as over 500 armed men stormed the cement factory in the early hours of today.
The armed men believed to be sponsored youths stormed the premises of the Africa’s largest cement plant in the early hours of Wednesday.
The attackers said to be numbering over 500 were said to be fully armed with assorted rifles, matchetes and other dangerous weapons.
The invaders on arrival at the main gate of the company engaged policemen and other security men in hot arguments.
The argument later degenerated but the armed youths overwhelmed the security men and forcefully gained entrance into the premises.
On entering, they started shooting sporadically into the air, forcing workers, customers, bank workers, residents and community members to run in different directions for safety.
“By this time, the hired thugs have succeeded in locking both entrance and exit gates of the company with many workers stranded,” an eyewitness said.
Meanwhile, members of the mining and host communities have condemned the Kogi State Government for what they described as extra-judicial and unlawful deployment of the vigilantes to cause chaos in the Obajana community.
The vigilante’s group were led by the state Director-General of Lands; Commissioner for Solid Minerals, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Security, Commodore Jerry Omodara(rtd), Chairman of Kabba/Bunnu LGA, Chairman of Ijumu LGA and the State ALGON Chairman, Alh. Taofeek; Senior Special Assistant on Job Creation, Mr Dele Iselewa and Chairman of Lokoja LGA, Alh. Mohammed Dansabe.
The vigilante group members were wielding arms of different kinds including local and assorted rifles as residents and passersby scamper for safety.
As at the time of this report some seven staff of the cement company were being attended to at the hospitals over the gunshot wounds inflicted on them.
A source who identified some of the vigilante men as thugs said most of them were drawn from state vigilante and hunters who have been working for the state government.
Mr. David Oluruntoba, spokesman for the Oyo Mining host community described the act as primitive and disgraceful, saying the youths of the community can never be used, and will not take part in such ‘evil practices’.
He said: “They called us to join them. But I told them that the company has not offended us. We just signed a Community Development Agreement (CDA) and the company has been helping us and providing us with jobs. What has the government done for us, nothing. There is no basis to support the government.”
Speaking in the same vein, the spokesman for Iwaa mining community, Rotimi Kekereowo said: “We would never support government on this matter. What have they done for us? We don’t have a single political appointment at the State level. Even when we have problems of electricity and flooding, it was Dangote that was helping us. So, I want to repeat it. We will never support them.”
Speaking also, the Olu of Akpata, Fredrick Balogun said he was never contacted and as such cannot justify the unwarranted invasion.
“We are royal fathers, and we will continue to seek the path of reconciliation and amicable resolution of any misunderstanding. We don’t have issues with the company,” he charged.
Mathew Ojonuga, a resident said important issue like flooding in the state which has rendered many homeless has not been attended to only to be chasing private companies that have been providing us with means of livelihood.
Said he ”the state governor should face the issue of flooding and let the people live in peace. If there are issues, let him employ dialogue and resolve it rather this kind of use of force.”
At the main gate, disagreement ensued between the thugs and the few policemen guarding the plant, as they shot sporadically into the air to disperse all staff and Communities members. By this time, the vigilantes have succeeded in locking both entrance and exit gates of the company with many workers stranded.