No fewer than seven persons were killed after Dangote Sugar Plc in Gyawana, Adamawa State, deployed soldiers to disperse protesting community residents on Thursday, Peoples Gazette has learnt.
A source told The Gazette that soldiers opened fire on the protesters around 05:00 p.m. after they kicked against the promotion of Daniel, a staff member to the position of a community relations manager.
The youths were said to have protested against Mr Daniel who is from Numan, a Christian community in the state, and demanded that a worker from Giwana take up the position.
“A staff member, Daniel who is from Numan was elevated to a manager rank: community relation manager. But the community people want someone from Giwana,” the source said, under conditions of anonymity granted in line with The Gazette’s policy on anonymous sources.
The company, owned by Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa, subsequently deployed soldiers to disperse the protesters.
“So, the community protested and the company called soldiers to chase them away. In doing that, the soldiers opened fire,” he added.
The soldiers were said to have arrived at the company in Hilux vans, having left their duty post at Numan bridge.
The spokesperson for Dangote Group, Tony Chiejina, did not respond to The Gazette’s request seeking comments on the incident.
However, the spokesperson for the state’s police command, Suleiman Nguroje, said five persons sustained injuries and denied that seven persons were killed during the incident.
“It’s not true that seven people were killed, it’s not even a protest, there was a kind of conflict between the management and the hosting community and it all happened yesterday,” Mr Nguroje told The Gazette over the telephone.
He claimed that the youths who were armed invaded the company’s staff quarters and insisted that they vacate the premises until certain conditions are met.
“So, later the command deployed its operatives to see how they can prevent any violence. Later in the evening between 05:00 and 06:00, the same group of men who were alleged to have been armed went in.
“But prior to that time, there were some security sister agencies that were deployed all over. So, that brought chaos and as a result, the command received a report that five people sustained some injuries in the course of dispersing them,” he added.
Asked if soldiers were present during the incident, Mr Nguroje reiterated that “that is why I said sister security agencies were there,” maintaining that “no single person died and the CP has now directed that investigation be carried out.”
He added that “the situation is under control and five people that were alleged to have sustained injuries are now receiving treatment at the clinic.”