16 June 2014, Port Harcourt – Scores of angry youths stormed the corporate headquarters of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company located at Moscow Road and attacked some workers of the power firm.
The irate youths, who also vandalised some property in the company, were protesting against the failure of the electricity firm to provide them power to watch the ongoing World Cup matches that began on June 12, 2014 in Brazil.
The protesters lamented that they had not enjoyed electricity supply within the past four days, a situation that made it difficult to watch the World Cup matches on the television.
Though the police were on the ground to ensure that peace was restored, the youth said they were out to deal with PHED workers over their refusal to supply them electricity.
“It was as if they planned not to give us light to watch the World Cup. We noticed the permanent power failure a day before the kick-off and since then, we have not enjoyed power supply.
“We are here to show our grievance. We want to tell them (PHED) that they cannot be treating us anyhow every time and get away with it,” one of the protesters said.
Another youth, who identified himself as Duncan, said they became violent when they noticed that the PHED office was under lock and key.
“We did not plan to attack anybody or destroy anything. We became angry when we saw that the entire place was locked.
“You can see now that they are not doing their work and that is why the place is locked. We have not been able to watch the matches since the World Cup started because they have refused to supply us light,” Duncan added.
An official of PHED, who preferred anonymity, told The PUNCH in a telephone interview that the electricty distribution firm decided to stop operation when the Nigerian Labour Congress chased workers away over their agitation for check-off dues and severance benefits.
Disclosing that NLC officials blocked the entrance to PHED office on Tuesday, he added that the situation had made it difficult for workers to work and ensure the distribution of power.
According to the official, only few PHED workers were attacked by the angry youths and others might have been attacked by officials of NLC, who blocked the entrance to PHED corporate headquarters.
“NLC said we should leave our offices since Tuesday last week. Even when we pleaded with them to allow us to work while they continue to negotiate with the management of PHED, they (NLC) did not listen,” he said.
Also, the NLC Chairman, Rivers State Chapter, Dr. Chris Oruge, said the union took over PHED building as a result of an alleged victimisation of its workers, including undue termination of their appointment.
Oruge added that the electricity distribution firm also refused to pay retrenched workers their severance packages.
– The Punch