Residents of South East geo-political zone, Nigeria on September 10 2016 gathered at the Bunkers’ Field in front of the Nigerian Coal Corporation, Enugu to protest against the purported sale of the Corporation to one Eric Chime by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), and most importantly against the massive cannibalization and asset stripping of the Corporation that the said Chime has embarked on since his purported acquisition of the facility.
The protesters who included members and leaders of the Enugu Ngwo community, landlords of the Corporation, displaced residents and owners of landed property in the Coal Corporation premises and civil society activists called on the Federal Government to investigate the purported sale of the facility, investigate the activities of Chime since he took over it and in addition cancel and reverse what they said was not only a purported but indeed a fraudulent sale.
Displaying placards with various inscriptions and chanting solidarity songs, the protesters recalled that during the presidential election campaign in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari promised to revive the Coal Corporation by seeing to it that mining of coal resumes there in order to bring Oji River Power Station back to life and consequently improve the electricity power supply situation in the South East.
Instead of the fulfillment of this promise, the protesters claim what they were witnessing daily was cannibalization and asset stripping of the facilities of the Corporation by the said Chime and the resort to pure (sachet) water production instead of coal mining at its premises. They said they were therefore afraid that by the time they Federal Government was ready to revive the Corporation as promised by Buhari, Chime would have disposed of all its core and non core assets.
One of the protesters, a former Head of a Department of the Corporation who was forced to retire following the purported acquisition of the facility by Chime recalled that the machinery they left behind in the Corporation were some of the best in the world and that all that was needed to resume coal mining there was a genuine and committed investor as the technical expertise needed for such resumption was in abundant supply in the country.