Organised labour under the umbrella of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) have given the federal government till Wednesday, November 8, 2023 to respond to their demands on the brutalisation of NLC President, Joe Ajaero, in Imo State or risk an industrial crisis.
Their demands include the immediate redeployment and investigation of the Imo State Police Commissioner, Ahmed Barde, sacking of the Area Commander and Police Officers and men involved in the alleged attack and brutalisation of Ajaero and other workers in Imo State.
They are also demanding the immediate arrest and prosecution of Mr. Nwaneri Chinasa, the Adviser on Special Duties to Governor Hope Uzodinma for allegedly supervising the brutalisation of Ajaero.
Other demands of the Unions include; an independent and unbiased professional medical examination of Ajaero to ascertain the extent of the physical and psychological injuries he may have suffered and the implementation of all outstanding agreements reached with the Imo state government.
In a joint a press conference yesterday in Abuja addressed by the Deputy President of NLC, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju and his counterpart from the TUC, Comrade Erin Oko, the two labour centres accused Governor Hope Uzodinma of serially undermining the rights of workers in Imo state by unlawfully retrenching workers, owing workers 44 months salaries and maintaining a backlog of eight years of gratuity arrears of workers.
They also condemned what they described as “systematic intimidation of trade unions and trade union leaders, dismantling of trade union structures, regular bullying and beating of workers and denying them access to the fruits of their labour.
The Labour unions said that it will amount to hypocrisy for this impunity against workers to be taking place in Nigeria at a time it’s chairing Governing Board of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
“We are worried that it has become criminal for workers in Nigeria to gather for a peaceful protest when Section 40 of the Nigerian Constitution and the International Conventions like the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights including ILO Conventions 87 and 98 guarantees the rights to Freedom of Association and the Right to Bargain collectively. It is more absurd that these infractions will even happen at all and still continue to happen especially when Nigeria sits as the Chairman of the Governing Board of the ILO,” he said.
While recounting the ordeal Ajaero went through in the hands of his abductors, Adeyanju said that the NLC president was abducted by officers and men of the Imo State Police Command at the behest of the state governor from the NLC state council secretariat in Owerri while waiting for his colleagues to join him for a peaceful protest rally.
“They came in a convoy of vehicles and gun trucks, hooded and armed to the teeth.
“Ajaero was blind folded, beaten to a pulp, brutalised, humiliated, and violated by the police personnel and taken to an unknown destination where he was subjected to more battering and torture as well as threatened with death before “help” came his way via the National Security Adviser; Mr. Nuhu Ribadu who ordered for his immediate release.
“However, due to the severity of his injuries, the police had to take him to the police hospital where we made contact with him at 3:30p.m. At the time of our first contact with Comrade Joe Ajaero, his right eye was puffed, black and shut, one of his ears had a tiny trace of dried blood, his speech was slurred and incoherent. He had welts all over him.