Hoodlums on Tuesday assaulted pensioners who were at the Imo State Government House in Owerri, the state capital to protest their five months unpaid pension and gratuities.
This is the fifth time in less than a month the senior citizens were protesting their nonpayment of pensions and gratuities by the governor Hope Uzodinma led administration.
Trouble started when thugs clutching canes formed a barricade, stopping the pensioners from approaching the Government House’s main gate.
The senior citizens who were resolute in their demands defied the situation which led the flogging by the thugs.
While the retirees were shouting and sobbing, a detachment of police operatives led by an assistant commissioner of police, AJ Moses, arrived at the scene.
While the cops dispersed the thugs, the police chief started appealing to the pensioners.
Our correspondent, who monitored the situation, heard the police chief telling the pensioners to work with the appropriate organs of the government but the pensioners in return told the ACP that they had exhausted all avenues of reconciliation with the government.
The pensioners accused the government of being insensitive to their plights.
One of the pensioners, Ebenezer Ibekwe, who spoke to journalists said that the thugs were sent by the government.
Ibekwe, who mentioned that he retired as a secondary school principal in 2011, said the thugs had poured water on them on their way to the government house in a bid to stop them from embarking on the protest.
The retiree said that no amount of intimidation by the state government would stop them from continually demanding that their pensions and gratuities be paid to them.
He said, “Thugs were flogging us their, fathers and mother. I pity them because they have dug their graves. At Warehouse junction, why we were coming, they accosted us and were pouring water on us. This has never happened in this state before.
“The monies we worked for and the government is sending urchins, idiots and never do wells to assault people who are old enough to be their fathers, mothers, and grandparents.”
When contacted, the Senior Special Assistant to the governor on print media, Modestus Nwamkpa, said that thugs did not flog the pensioners.
He, however, said that the state government was frowning at illegal protests in the state.
Nwamkpa said that the government had discovered that most of the protesters were ‘ghost pensioners’ who were being used by the opposition politicians to discredit the performances of the government.