Recently, a 19-year old young man named Terhile Jirbo went to empty his bowels in a bush near the factory owned by Dangote Cement in CheKucha, near Gboko. An argument ensued between the young man and a soldier on guard duty near the factory. The soldier is reported to have ordered the young man to remove the excreta with his mouth. He said he would do no such a thing. Taken aback by the man’s effrontery, the soldier reportedly shot him in the mouth.
Mercifully, the young man, though badly battered with all his teeth gone, managed to survive the brutal attack. Even then, there was a spontaneous reaction from the community. A peaceful demonstration was held to protest the action of the soldier. The soldiers on guard this time reacted by shooting six young men and one woman to death. The victims were identified as Doose Ornguze, 19, female; Luper NongoIgber, 20, male; Timothy Terngu Mase, 21, male; Myom Mbaume, 25, male; Aondoyima Tyokase, 26, male; Iornenge Anum, 35, male and Aondoakura Tseeneke, 36, male. They were killed in violation of their rights to life and human dignity as enshrined in Chapter Four of the Nigerian Constitution.
That was a sad incident, made more so by the fact that the demonstrators, who were sent to their early graves were not armed and did not pose any danger to the soldiers on duty on that bloody day. More tragic than the cold-blooded extra- judicial murder of the innocent citizens has been the failure of the government to investigate the senseless multiple murders, let alone give an explanation as to what led to the killings. There has also been no compensation to those who were wounded by the soldiers or to the families of those who were killed on that day.
The bloody incident is clearly an indication that all is not well between Dangote and the host community at the factory. That there is no provision for toileting facilities in the precincts of the factory is an indication that the company has poor relations with its immediate host community. For all the wealth that is generated from the limestone mined under their soil, it is regrettable that the company has nothing to show as its contribution to the welfare of the locals. Such a situation usually creates tension, which explodes under the slightest provocation.
We, therefore, call for a speedy resolution of the problems staring Dangote and the host community in the face. The company must look into the environmental hazards that its mining activity has exposed the community to. The federal government should also punish all those involved in the extra-judicial killing of the protesters and compensate the aggrieved families.