THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have placed workers on strike alert nationwide over the arrest of NLC President Joe Ajaero by operatives of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) in Owerri, Imo State.
The Labour unions also accused the Imo state governor, Hope Uzodinma, of masterminding Ajaero’s arrest.
The unions, in a joint statement on Wednesday, November 1, signed by General Secretary NLC Emmanuel Ugboaja and Nuhu Toro, Secretary General TUC, accused the Imo state government of continuing to use the instrument of violence and intimidation against trade unions and their leadership in the state.
According to the unions, the government unleashed “blood-cuddling” mayhem on the state workers with Ajaero’s arrest.
“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 Monies were forcefully taken away by the hoodlums.
“The Police in the usual manner accompanied by thugs led by the Special Assistant to the Governor of Imo state on Special Duties: Mr. Chinasa Nwaneri, leading others like Tapey and Madoka, descended on the president of the congress after overpowering the few workers who were left after the initial battering, inflicted heavy injuries and big blows to his head and body and kicking him in the process while dragging him on the ground while the Police supervised the mayhem,” part of the statement reads.
The unions said the Police bundled Ajaero into their waiting van and whisked him away to an unknown destination.
Continuing, the Unions said all they had been asking Uzodinma was to honour agreements signed and to respect the rights of workers in the state.
“Workers deserve their wage, 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.”
They called on Nigerian workers within and outside the state to be on alert for immediate nationwide action if Ajaero was not released by the end of Wednesday that he was abducted.
They also called on President Bola Tinubu to call Uzodimma to order to avert the state from being turned into “a den of thugs and bloodsuckers.”
The ICIR reports that officers of the Nigerian Police reportedly arrested the President of the NLC, Ajaero, in Owerri, Imo state, on Wednesday.
The NLC was leading a protest and strike in the state due to alleged disrespect for workers and unpaid salaries by Uzodinma’s administration when officers of the Nigeria Police Force apprehended its leader.
The Labour union had vowed to mobilise its members for a total strike in the state starting Wednesday, November 1.
The crisis comes 11 days before the governorship election in the state.