Police Arrest NLC President, Ajaero at Owerri Protest

Police Arrest NLC President, Ajaero at Owerri Protest

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Owerri

The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress ((NLC), Joe Ajaero, has been arrested by the police in Owerri, the Imo State capital.

Ajaero was arrested during a protest led by the national leadership of the labour movement against alleged maltreatment of workers in the state.

As early as 8 am Wednesday, workers started gathering at the state secretariat of the NLC for the protest but suddenly some armed men stormed the secretariat, attacked the workers and chased them away.

However, the workers reassembled at the secretariat, but this time, they were led by the NLC president and General Secretary, Emma Ugboaja, to commence the protest.

Just as Ajaero was about addressing the gathering, a team of armed policemen came and arrested him along with some officials of NLC and took them away. 

There were several gun shots apparently fired to disperse the workers.

Speaking to THISDAY on telephone, the Head of Information and Publicity at the NLC, Benson Upah, confirmed Ajaero’s arrest by the police.

He said: “The NLC President was abducted by men suspected to be policemen armed to their teeth at the Imo State NLC secretariat on Wednesday as we were about to commence our lawful protest against the violation of trade union rights of the workers.”

Also giving account of the incident, the NLC Deputy General Secretary and Chief of Staff to the NLC president, Chris Onyeka, said that he was standing with Ajaero when he was brutalized and arrested.

“As workers were gathering to protest their maltreatment by the state government in Owerri, Imo State and the President of NLC was about addressing the workers, the police came amidst attacks by thugs to arrest Ajaero.

“Thugs first attacked and dragged Ajaero from the platform before police came to arrest him along with another senior official of the NLC,” he said.

Earlier while inspecting facilities at the vandalised secretariat of the state council of NLC on Tuesday, the union leaders took turns to lambast the government for allegedly undermining workers’ rights.

They accused the state government of insincerity, duplicity and perfidy.

Upah listed some of the grievances of the workers to include owing workers and pensioners over 42 months arrears; declaring thousands of workers/pensioners ghost workers/pensioners; not properly implementing the national minimum wage.

He also accused the state government of trying to use the courts to stifle a lawful protest and attempting to break the ranks of the unions in the state.

He said that the authorities are undermining the NLC in the state by foisting on the state council a leadership not constituted in accordance with the provisions of  of the Congress’ constitution.

Other allegations, according to him, included interfering with the affairs of the state council; hiring thugs to vandalise the congress’ state secretariat and observing in breach agreements government voluntarily  entered into with Congress as far back as 2021.

Details later …

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