Industrial Dispute at Sterling Petrochemical claims one in A’Ibom

By Paulinus Nta, A’IBOM

The ongoing industrial dispute at Sterling Petrochemical and Fertilizer Limited (SPFL) in Akwa Ibom State has tragically escalated with the death of Kalu Chimgi, one of the truck drivers involved in a peaceful protest against alleged maltreatment by the company’s management.

Chimgi was reportedly ambushed and tortured by armed thugs believed to be loyal to a senior foreign management staff member of the company.

Responding to distressed calls from concerned citizens, our reporter arrived at Ete town.

However, due to the prevailing tension and grief, the workers were unable to speak to the press.

In a telephone interview, the President of Ukpum Ete Unity Association, Comrade Eno Etukakpan, and Secretary, Honourable Emmanuel Ekwere, confirmed the tragic incident.

They revealed that the truck drivers had previously sought their intervention regarding the company’s maltreatment.

According to Etukakpan and Ekwere, despite evading legitimate state taxes, the recalcitrant company flouted state government directives and proceeded to sack the protesting workers.

They believe this development will increase the number of unemployed youths in the region, potentially leading to a rise in crime in what was once an industrial hub of the state.

The leadership of Ukpum Ete Unity Association, a socio-cultural pressure group in the host community, reported that the drivers were ambushed by bloodthirsty, trigger-happy thugs at Ikot Akpan Udo junction, close to the company premises.

The drivers suffered severe beatings, with some losing consciousness and revived after days in teaching and specialist hospitals. Others narrowly escaped death.

Tragically, one driver did not recover from a coma and was confirmed dead due to complications from severe internal bleeding days after the brutal attack.

The group stated that they have petitioned the Commissioner of Police, who promptly summoned them to appear with the suspects and victims.

They expressed confidence in the Akwa Ibom state police and urged the distressed workers to remain calm and law-abiding.

Efforts to reach the management of SPFL were unsuccessful. However, Community Liaison Officer Abasiubong Idemudo confirmed the incident.

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