According to Sahara Reporters, the soldiers are attached to Aliko Dangote’s Savannah Sugar Refinery, in the host community of Gyawana in Adamawa State.
The soldiers, who were from the 23 Armoured Brigade in Yola, allegedly shot at five of several protesting youths who were former employees of the sugar company.
The victimised youths are identified as; Augustine Philemon Dangabas, Peter Amos, Justine Ignatius, Obasanjo Nadi, and the deceased, Gad Jacob.
It was learnt that they were protesting a mass dismissal of casual workers in Gyawana by the company after over 20,000 workers from various neighbouring communities were laid off.
But Gyawana, which is the immediate host community, was said to have recorded higher numbers of dismissal from the company.
Meanwhile, the army had claimed in a statement that ‘no single protester was killed’.
The Assistant Director of Army Public Relations, Haruna Mohammed Sani, claimed that “non-violent means” such as “tear gas and warning shots” were used to disperse the protesters.
The spokesman of Adamawa Police Command, Sulaiman Nguroje, accused the protesters of being “armed themselves,” threatening the company’s staff and asking residents of the staff quarters to vacate the area.
Nguroje added that “the tense situation led to the deployment of operational teams, including the military, to ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order in the company and its surroundings.”
But a member of the Gyawana Youth Association, who is also an employee of he refinery, whose identity remained withheld, refuted the police claims saying the police and the army’s claims that the youths were armed and had threatened to shut down the facility and abduct foreign expatriates were false.
He disclosed that the soldiers shot five people.
“One is dead, and two have been discharged from hospital while two are still in the hospital. As I talk with you now, there is still no condolence message or anything of the sort from the company,” he simply stated.
Confrontations over employment and layoff appear to be a cyclical problem that faces the company and its host community Gwayana.
In June 2017, the Savannah Sugar Company closed operations for over a month following a conflict with the host community for laying off 3,000 casual workers.
The then Group Managing Director, Sugar, Dangote Group, Abdullahi Sule, now Nasarawa governor, had described the layoff as “normal” and criticised the company’s poor handling of the incident when he was on vacation.