Wednesday 31 July 2013

Dangote's Casual Staff dies mysteriously in Gboko

By Sunday Itodo 
Late Solomon

In what appeared to many as mysterious death, a casual labourer with Dangote Cement Company (formerly Benue Cement Company) Gboko, Mr. Solomon Aaga Ashir met his untimely death early hours of today (Wednessday) when he was hit by limestones at the company premises while carrying out his lawful duties.

According to an eye witness who spoke with our Correspondent in Gboko, the deceased was attached to the ‘parking plant’ unit of the cement company where he was given a casual appointment seven years as an indegene of Mbayion, the host community.

Dangote Cement Factory
The source who spoke with Daybreak Newspaper on condition of anonymity also disclosed that the youths of the community became infuriated by what they described as 'negligence' by Dangote Cement Company as it relates to the death of one of their own and decided to match with the corpse to the palace of the Traditional Ruler of Tyoor Ukpekpe ward, Chief Ishi Yonguigba.

“Captain Yonguigba (Rtd) expressed grief over the incident and pleaded with the youths to restrain from further action that would lead to break-down of law and order”, the souce said.

Apparently, with show of anger over the carelessness on the part of the management, which led to the death of Mr. solomon, the youths in their numbers moved the corpse from the palace to the factory where they insisted on seeing the Assistant General Manager (Mines), Engr. James Agada who fled through the back door on sighting the youths.

All efforts by our Correspondent  to reach the Manager in charge of Community Realtions, Mr. Bem Melladu proved abortive as his cell phone was switched off. The Executive Chairman of Gboko Local Government Council Mr. Mike N. Zenda could not also be reached through his lines.

When contacted, a family source confirmed to Daybreak Newspaper that Mr. Solomon was hit dead around 10 am this morning (Wednessday). “As you can see, we are just returning from the general hospital in Gboko where we deposited the corpse.

“The police have been supportive, they came from both the division and the Area Command. We went to the Mortuary together with the Police after leaving the factory.
“We the family shall meet and discuss the burial arrangement later,…”, he said.

As at the time of filing this report, the youths of the community have insisted that the factory be shut down until salient issues concerning the welfare of the casual labourers be addressed.

The youths have argued that the company has not lived up to its social responsibility to the host community as the Mbayion people were not considered for employment.

"Can you imagine that they use us only as casual labourers and bring in their people from the north to man strategic positions. The late Solomon has been with them for seven years now without ratifying his appointment.

There are other Gboko indegenes who are being used as casual staff for years and when opportunity came last year to employ, they employ their own people at the expense of the youths here. Over 80% of their staff are from the north", one of the youths said.

This is not the first time the youths of Mbayion is protesting against the marginalization of the community by Dangote Cement.

It could be recalled that activities at the Cement Company was grounded to a halt for a whole week in year 2007 following protest by the people of Mbayion, the host community over non-provision of social amenities by the company.

The protesters who barricaded the road leading to Makurdi also accused the company's management of lip services and neglect of its social responsibilities to the people over the years. They claimed that since Dangote Group of Companies took over the affairs of the company in year 2000, it did not live up to its promises of provision of water, electricity, schools and employment among others.

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