A construction company, Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company on Saturday ordered the arrest of a journalist with LEADERSHIP Newspapers, Mr. Kunle Olasanmi, for demanding the repairs of his damaged property located in Garam community, a suburb of Bwari Area Council of the FCT.
Residents of the area were also dispersed with Soldiers after staging a peaceful protest against the insensitivity of the company since the property were damaged.
The aggrieved residents are those whose properties were damaged by a twin rock blast carried out by the company in the months of January and February while constructing railway line.
The blast had left many houses shattered while some suffered serious structural damages.
Among other journalists whose houses were shattered by the blasts are Adelanwa Bamgboye of Daily Trust and Yekeen Nurudeen of New Telegraph.
Olasanmi was however released after some hours and is now receiving treatment in an undisclosed hospital.
The angry residents of the area, numbering about 50 had mobilised themselves as early as 6:30am to the construction site where CCECC workers have been working to register their protest against what they described as the insensitivity with which the company was handling the issue of compensation.
But they were promptly dispersed with soldiers who blocked all the entry and exit points to different sites of the company in the locality with rocks forcing workers comprising Nigerians and Chinese to abandon work for the day.
Some of the company’s trucks that had arrived sites very early were also prevented from going in or out.
The first blast took place on January 20 while the second blast was carried out on February 28.
But one week after taking stock of what was damaged, residents have been waiting on the company to fulfill its promises. They were therefore irked by the commencement of rainfall which according to them has since made living in those damaged houses very uncomfortable.
While the protest lasted, the company’s Personnel Manager, Davids Oladokun, who addressed the protesters apologised on behalf of the company for the damages and discomfort the blasts have brought to them.
He gave assurance that the company had already started work on all the stock of damages taken with the view to give adequate compensation to the victims.
Oladokun who said he shared in the predicament of the victims pleaded with them to exercise patience for the company to reach out to them on Sunday even as he advised against violence.
However, not long after the Personnel Manager’s departure from the scene of demonstration, a detachment of men of Nigerian Army attached to the site office of the company arrived in a Hilux Toyota Van.
The heavily armed soldiers ordered that all the roads earlier blocked by the protesters be removed.
They had come to the scene on the invitation of a Chinese national, who was earlier denied exit by the protesters.
This led to a argument during which a digital camera belonging to one of the protesters, Christian Asogwo was smashed by one of the security personnel.
Olasanmi was beaten and whisked away by the soldiers with his shirts torn to shreds
He had bruises all over his body due to the beating he received from soldiers who came to disperse the protesters.
One of the victims of the rock blasts, Joe Joseph, whose house was damaged by rocks sent away by the blast lamented that he and his family members could no longer reside in the house as it was no longer habitable.
“See, my roof has been shattered, look at those two big holes at the base of my house created by the rocks that hit the house. Since rain has started, it has become difficult for us to live in this house” he said.
Ismaila Adamu who also has serious structural damages on his house insisted that the foundation of his house, which tremor from the two blast had shaken must be taken care of by the company as part of compensation.
The company’s Public Relations Manager, Aminu Mohammed, later appealed to the owners of affected properties that CCECC would take responsibility for the blast and compensate all the victims adequately.
He said, “I just confirmed from the office now that it actually happened. We are very sorry, very sorry for what happened. I assure you we will fish out those who ordered the soldiers to come and we will take actions.”