President of Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, on Wednesday, recounted how he was arrested and brutalised by some police operatives allegedly attached to Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma.
The NLC president was reportedly arrested during a protest led by the national leadership of the movement against alleged maltreatment of workers in the state.
Ajaero had at a press briefing in Abuja, on Sunday, announced that Labour would shut down the State capital, Owerri, over alleged violation of workers’ rights by the state government.
As early as 8 am Wednesday morning, workers began to converge on the state Secretariat of the NLC for the protest. But suddenly, some armed men reportedly stormed the Secretariat and attacked the workers, chasing them away.
The workers were said to have re-assembled at the Secretariat and were led by both Ajaero and NLC General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja, to commence the protest.
But just as Ajaero was about to address the workers, a team of armed policemen arrested him alongside some officials of NLC and took them to the popular dreaded Tiger Base.
NLC Head of Information and Publicity , Benson Upah, who confirmed the development to journalists on the phone, said, “The NLC President was abducted by men suspected to Policemen armed to their teeth at the Imo state NLC secretariat on Wednesday as we are about to commence our lawful protest against the violation of trade Union rights of the workers.”
Also, while giving the account of the incident, the Chief of Staff to the NLC president, Chris Onyeka, said he was standing with Ajaero when he was brutalized and arrested.
He said, “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.”
Meanwhile, following pressure from Labour leaders across the country, Ajaero was released by the police at about 3:00pm with wounds on his body and bruises on his face. The Labour leader was later admitted for treatment in a government hospital.
Upah while giving the update, said, “Contact was made with Congress President, Comrade Joe Ajaero this evening around 1530 hours at the Police Hospital in Owerri from where he was taken to Federal Medical Centre, Owerri where he is receiving medical attention.
“Thoroughly brutalized, his right eye at the time of contact was completely shut. Ajaero who said little, stated that immediately after his arrest, he was beaten up and blind-folded and taken to an unknown destination where more brutalisation took place, sometimes with bottles.
“His phones, money and other personal effects were taken off him and have not been returned to him.”
Labour leader’s brutality, attack on workers – RULAAC
Meanwhile, the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), in a statement by its Executive Director, Okechukwu Nwanguma, condemned the development.
He allegt that the officers behind the brutality have become tools in the hands of politicians.
Nwanguma said, “I’m told that the chief security aide to Governor Hope Uzodinma known as Chinasa Nwaneri who commands the Ebubeagu ‘security outfit’, led police officers to arrest Joe Ajaeoro, the President of the Nigeria Labor Congress NLC, brutalized him, tore his clothes and have taken him to the dreaded Tiger Base which is the police unit that executes the terror agenda of the Uzodinma government in Imo State.
“If the police have credible reasons to arrest Ajaero, they did not need to deploy so much violence and attack on his human dignity. Police in Imo, under CP Ahmed Barde, have remained tools of political violence and oppression in the hands of the Hope Uzodinma ruthless government.
“Attack on Ajaero is an attack on Nigerian workers whom he represents. Nigerian workers must rise to resist and challenge this daring attack on their rights and dignity.”