Protesting members of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) were yesterday tear-gassed by a detachment of the Nigerian Police, FCT command.
The policemen lost their cool when the protesting unions refused to heed their warning not to head to the premises of the National Assembly in furtherance of their protest. Several canisters of teargas and water cannons were released on the hapless protesters.
Meanwhile, the federal government has reiterated that it was taking urgent steps to resolve the lingering 10-month-old strike embarked upon by the members of Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics and Colleges of Education.
Addressing the striking lecturers who were on a joint protest in Abuja, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, said he was directed by President Goodluck Jonathan to inform the unions that the government was ready to permanently address their demands.
Receiving a formal letter from the union to register its grievances, Wogu said the federal government was currently discussing the complaints of the union with the leadership of the ASUP and COEASU.
He said: “I want to re-assure you that even last night your grievances were being discussed with the leadership of your union; I want to deliver the message of Mr President that we are almost there.”
Wogu further expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the protest, and pleaded for more opportunity from the unions to discuss further.
He also assured that further deliberations with the union leaders would yield expected results.
The two leaders of the union, Dr Chibuzor Asomugha, and Asaga Emmanuel, said in their speeches before the placard-carrying crowd that the protest was called to enable members to register their grievances on the government neglect of the welfare of lecturers of polytechnics and colleges of education.