Nigeria Labour Congress, on Wednesday, accused Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, of conspiring with the state’s Commissioner of Police, Muhammed Barde, to ‘abduct’ its President, Joe Ajaero, in Owerri, the state capital.
NLC alleged that the Imo State Government had been using “the instrument of violence and intimidation” against trade unions and their leadership in the state.
NLC added that it had only asked the Governor to pay the salaries owed to the state workers.
Labour in a statement titled, ”The President of Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade 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), condemned Ajaero’s detention, calling on President Bola Tinubu to urgently intervene.
The statement read in part, “Just as Nigerian workers gathered earlier this morning led by the leadership of the two Labour centres to demonstrate our outrage over the serial and habitual abuse and violation of the rights of workers in the state, the government unleashed blood-curdling mayhem on the workers.
“Earlier in the morning, policemen had tried to disperse workers who were gathering at the state NLC secretariat without success. This was followed in the usual manner by ‘thugs’ who were stationed very close to the Secretariat in several Hilux and Toyota trucks.
“These ‘thugs’ were later to unleash mayhem on the few workers who had already gathered, smashing car windscreens, delivering matchet cuts on some, stabbing many, and inflicting all manners of injuries on the workers. GSM handsets were snatched, Laptops taken away, and money were forcefully taken away by the hoodlums.
“As if that damage was not enough, the President of the NLC, Comrade Joe Ajaero, arrived at the venue accompanied by a few individual workers to inspect the carnage and to provide the necessary leadership for the trade union action to continue, only to be met by Policemen of the Imo State Police Command who came in their numbers and in several trucks.”
NLC and TUC also alleged that the police came with thugs led by the Special Assistant to the Governor on Special Duties, Chinasa Nwaneri, and descended on Ajaero after overpowering the few workers who were left after the initial battering and sustained injuries.
The statement added, “They (Police) eventually bundled the President into their waiting van and whisked him away to an unknown destination, where he is still being held incommunicado as we write.
“This latest action of the state government and the Police further demonstrates our earlier cries to Nigerians on the level of violence and impunity going on in Imo State. If the President of Congress can be abducted in broad daylight and taken to an unknown destination by the Police and the State Governor, imagine what they have been doing to workers and trade union leaders in the state!
“All we have been asking the Governor is to honour agreements signed between us and to respect the rights of workers in the state. Workers deserve their wages and if you are in the habit of owing workers, you make their lives unstable and strip them of their humanity. These are some of the things we have asked Hope to do but to which he has refused to heed; instead, he believes in the use of intimidation and violence against the workers and the people.”
Labour further appealed to Tinubu to ensure the release of the NLC President with immediate effect while urging the workers across the country to be on alert for nationwide protest if Ajaero is not released before the end of today.
Police operatives had arrested Ajaero in Owerri, the Imo state’s capital.
NLC Head of Information, Benson Upah, said Ajaero was picked up at the state secretariat of the congress and taken to an unknown location.