.As contractors, disables storm venue with placards
Barely 48 hours after the Imo state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Chinedu Offor went on air to state that government has paid up all its indebtedness to accredited contractors working for the government, contractors numbering over 100 handling various road projects in Imo State yesterday marched through the streets of Owerri, the State capital in protest against government’s inability to pay up for contract works executed for the state.
The angry contractors who are allegedly being owed money running into several millions of naira after their march through the city, defied the presence of military patrol teams and stormed the Ahiajoku Convention Centre venue of the inauguration of the Imo Security Network and Emergency Services by Governor Rochas Okorocha, to press home their demands for payment.
Efforts made by the state Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Chike Okafor to appease and dissuade the protesters from the demonstration were rebuffed.
The aggrieved contractors had placards with such inscriptions as, “Owelle, we have families, please pay us for the jobs done”, “ Okorocha, we gave you massive support and now you are paying us back with evil”, and “Owelle pay us for the jobs done, some of us have already died waiting to be paid”.
The spokesman of the group, Mr Zac Awaraka stated that contractors from six local government areas have not been paid a kobo not even the 30 percent of the job done by the state as agreed.
According to him, the state government had made several promises in the past but failed to redeem its pledges to settle the affected contractors they therefore, pleaded with the state government to pay them off and select those that they wish to work with in the future.
The protesting contractors were drawn from Ohaji/Egebma, Oru West, Oguta, Ezinihitte Mbaise, Orsu and Owerri West council areas of the state.
A source in the office of the Commissioner for Information who craved anonymity stated that the protesting contractors were not accredited and may have commenced construction on their own without government approval.
The situation was however compounded when physically challenged persons from Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta council areas also stormed the venue in protest against the continued detention of their chairman, Mr Henry Nekpawu by soldiers of the 34 Artilery Brigade, Obinze.
The group under the aegis of Ohaji/Egbema, Oguta Niger Delta Federated Physically Challenged Persons Associatiion stated that their members went to Addax Oil Company and Chevron Izombe to solicit assistance from the oil companies but unfortunately soldiers were invited while they were discussing with management of the companies and were allegedly brutalized and subjected to the most inhuman treatment by the soldiers who also took away their Chairman.