Lagos, Nigeria --- ESI-AFRICA.COM --- 15 November 2011 - Armed soldiers have taken over most of Nigeria’s power stations, including the Egbin power station, as workers at the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) threatened to withdraw their services.
This came as the State Security Service invited the president and general secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) umbrella body for two unions in the sector, Mansur Musa and Joe Ajaero, to Abuja for discussions.
Meanwhile Nigerian newspaper “Vanguard” reports that a Power Ministry statement said soldiers would be deployed immediately to join policemen in guarding PHCN facilities across the nation. It added that at Sapele and some other stations there had been clashes between workers and the armed soldiers.
The newspaper pointed out that the military takeover might not be unconnected with the controversy trailing reported physical due diligence being conducted on the power stations and installations by Dangote and 134 other power companies. But organised labour in the sector had dismissed the report and declared that there was no due diligence on the power stations.
Informed sources say the deployment is a sequel to recent advice by the intelligence community to the Nigerian government to enhance security at critical infrastructural facilities in Nigeria. It is reported to have resulted from the threat to national security by the extremist Islamic sect, popularly known as Boko Haram, which wants the introduction of Sharia law all over Nigeria and regards western education as forbidden.
Troops from the Army, Navy and Air Force are to guard especially PHCN's transmission and generation facilities, revealed sources in the office of national security adviser, General Andrew Aziza (rtd), himself a former director of military intelligence and chief of army staff.
“Vanguard” says it was also gathered that soldiers, who have been guarding high profile places in the Abuja area, like the Sheraton and Hilton hotels, in the wake of the Boko Haram attacks, are now deployed to big churches and mosques during service.