In response to their President Joe Ajaero’s beating and kidnapping, organised labour, which is made up of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, has announced plans for a statewide strike.
At a press conference on Friday, the strike that is set for Wednesday, November 8, 2023, was announced.
The joint union leaders have presented a six-point demand to the Federal Government, which includes the immediate removal of the Imo State Commissioner of Police, the Area Commander, and other officials for their alleged involvement in the brutalization and humiliation of Ajaero and other workers.
The NLC’s Deputy President, Adeyanju Adewale, and TUC’s Deputy President, Tommy Okon, addressed the press on behalf of workers.
The text of the conference read, “The NLC President was blindfolded and whisked away by security operatives in the state before intervention from the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu.
“He was also beaten along with other workers with his phone seized, and journalists also maltreated with evidence shrouded away from the public.”
The union further expressed workers’ worry over the negligence of the Federal Government on the issue and the non-intervention of security personnel despite being briefed about their leaders’ presence in the state.
Continuing, the union resolved that “The Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Barde, should not only be investigated and redeployed but should also be held accountable for his action on Ajaero.
“The Area Commander and the other officers who supervised the brutalisation of our President and other workers in Owerri should be relieved of their office and stripped of their commission.
“We demand an unbiased and thorough examination of the President on the physical and psychological injuries inflicted on him. And all the properties lost be restored immediately.”
They emphasised that there will be widespread protests if the government does not comply with their demands, and that the NUC, TUC, and its affiliates will no longer be able to ensure peace in the nation.
Ajaero was reportedly taken away by the police during a protest in the state capital of Imo State over workers’ nonpayment.
In response to the detention, the NLC said that Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma and state police commissioner Barde had planned to “abduct” its president, Joe Ajaero, on Wednesday.
NLC said that the Imo State Government has continued to use what it described as ‘the instrument of violence and intimidation’ against trade unions and their leadership in the state, adding that they had only asked the governor to pay the salaries owed to the state workers.
In a statement titled, ”The President of Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero has been abducted by Hope Uzodimma and the Imo State Police Commissioner’ signed by the joint Unions’ Secretaries, Emmanuel Ugboaja (NLC) and Nuhu Toro (TUC) and made available to PUNCH Online on Wednesday, they frowned at the detention of Ajaero stressing the need for President Bola Tinubu’s intervention.
But the state Police Command and the governor, in separate statements, denied arresting Ajaero.
The NLC President, according to the police, was in Owerri as part of the Congress’s efforts to gather labourers for a significant demonstration in the state.
Reports surfaced during the planning stages regarding plans to lock down a few key locations, most notably the state airport.
Declan Emelumba, the state commissioner for information and strategy, countered, saying, “Those accusing the government are perennial mischief makers always crying wolf where there is none,” and asserting that the governor had nothing to do with Ajaero’s detention.