- Company Owner Says, Allegation Untrue, Challenges CDWR to Go to Court
THE Campaign for Democratic Workers’ Rights in Nigeria (CDWRN) has accused the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of biscuit maker, MABISCO over alleged unlawful arrest of three former workers of the company for no given reason.
The workers were reportedly arrested on Thursday, November 25, 2021 at Allen Avenue Ikeja, Lagos and are currently being detained at Panti Police Station, Yaba.
A press statement signed by CDWR’s Publicity Secretary, Comrade Chinedu Bosah, and made available to National Record, said the arrested former employees of Mabisco include Usman Yahaya, Bisiriyi Babatunde and Olayiwola Akin.
“They were arrested by policemen who posed as journalists from the Sahara Reporters interested in the poor working condition at MABISCO.
“In actual fact, Sahara Reporters reported the poor working conditions workers are subjected to on Tuesday, November 23, 2021 with the headline: “Ogun Biscuit Factory Suspends Workers for Protesting N1000 Slave Wage,” the statement said.
CDWR alleged that the workers were arrested on the orders of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Mabisco, simply addressed as Mr Felix, identified by Truecaller app as “Felix King Oracle;” who was reportedly not happy about the Sahara Reporters report.
The statement called on workers to call and send protest messages to the CEO on a mobile number displayed on the statement to demand the release of the detained former workers as well as to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Hakeem Odumosu.
Only mad person person will arrest people without reason – CEO
When contacted on telephone, the CEO told National Record that it is only a mad person that will arrest people for no reason.
Describing CDWR as faceless people, he alleged that they are people who have been calling him to extort money from him. He asserted that if the CDWR has anything against him, it should go to court or the police.
Mr Felix stated at length:
“It is only a mad person that will arrest people for no reason; does that make any sense? The CDWR or whatever they call themselves, are faceless people, I have never met with them; they are people that have been calling me, trying to extort money from me…since Covid times. You know, they wanted to extort money from me and I told them that I don’t listen to blackmailers. If they think they have anything against me, they should go to the police.
“If they say I arrested three people for no reason, why don’t they go to court, why don’t they go to the police, why don’t they go to the Police IG? They wrote to me that they petitioned the Police Commissioner, so why don’t they go and sort it out; it is a very simple thing.
“I don’t know if you read the story; I don’t know the story they gave to you; they said that workers, they said National Union of Labour or whatever is supporting me. So if I am being unjust to people, what is the issue? They claimed that I am paying N1,000 to contract people in my company and they said it is a slave camp.
“To start with, the law of Nigeria sets minimum wage at N30,000. Most state governments pay N18,000 minimum wage. So if for instance you say I am paying N1,000, if you calculate N1,000 by 26 days, that 26 days is already more than what a lot of states are paying. I am from Edo State, Edo State is paying N18,000, which is already less than what they are asking me to pay. But the reality of the matter is that I don’t even pay N1,000; minimum wage in my company is about N32,600; that is my minimum wage. So if they say somebody is running a slave camp; why don’t they go and report to the police? Is it on the pages of the newspaper that they will go and say somebody is running a slave camp? Why don’t they go to all the authorities that are responsible for running slave camp so that they will invade the place?
“When it was alleged that Evans was kidnapping people and hiding them somewhere, didn’t the police go there and invaded the place, took over the place and rescued the people? So, if they said I am running a slave camp, instead of them going to the pages of the newspaper, why don’t they go to the relevant authorities so that they will go to the company and see how a slave camp looks like?
“Now, let me come to the allegation. They said I arrested three people. The truth is that I only wrote a petition to the police.
“Even when these same people called me and wanted to extort money from me and I said I don’t give in to blackmailers, so what they did; they took some disgruntled ex-workers from my company who I had a lot of issues with to the Ministry of Labour to report all those issues.
“There was one person who we gave a suspension letter. The person was caught stealing, so he was suspended. A day or two later, we asked him to come back so that the issue could be resolved internally. Four days after he was asked to come, he didn’t come. So he went to this CDWR and they told him, don’t worry, just be quiet, don’t go there; after we will go there and make claims and they came and harassed people and asked that we should come and pay the boy two years. They were going back and forth, and even went on social media.
“Well, I am not the company, I am just the financier of the company; but they went and took my picture and my phone number and they were telling people to harass me.
“From the little knowledge of the law I have, I went to my lawyer who wrote to them that my life is at stake as they have gone to Nairaland and some major news outlets and inducing violence against our person without even given me the opportunity to say something, without even going to see the place anybody is talking about.
“Because of this, I said police, please help me, that was all. So, police arrested them to take their statements and asked them, why are you people taking this man’s picture, phone number, name and pushing them to the social media for people to harm him?
“It is very simple; if for instance, somebody is doing that, will I go to agbero to go and pick agbero? No, I will go to the police and make official claim and they will go to court to make official claim and the court will take up the matter from here. For Sahara Reporters, I am also taking them to court for defamation of character. They have never been to my facility, they didn’t speak to anybody in my facility; there is no place in the law that says if you pay one thousand that you run a slave camp; I don’t know them, I don’t know who they are and I open my door to anybody, come to my company, come and see and check. In the whole factories in Agbara, my company is one of the best.”
He said he doesn’t even know if the three ex-workers are still in police custody. “What I did is that I reported to the police and the police invited us to come, and so I will go to the police around 4pm today. I am not police so I don’t know if the police arrested them; what I know is that I reported them to the police. If the police feel that the case against them is okay for them to charge them to court, they will charge them to court and the case they have is a bailable offence.