MINISTER of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, boasts that he has the power to get a person detained indefinitely in a videotape shared with The ICIR.
He made this statement at the annual meeting of Alor, a town in Idemili South Local Government, Anambra State, where he hails from. The event was held on Monday, December 30.
“If I use my power, I will put the person in jail and he won’t come out,” Ngige said in the clip leaked by one of the meeting’s attendees.
Someone in the audience then cut in: “You tried now. It failed!”
“I heard the person that said ‘you tried’,” the minister replied in Igbo. “If I carry that person, I will lock him up and throw the keys away.”
Alor community, comprising four villages in Anambra, has been in a leadership crisis over who should be the President-General of the People’s Assembly.
According to Channels TV, one of the two men laying claim to the seat is loyal to the Igwe of Alor, Mac Anthony Okonkwo, while the other is loyal to the minister of labour.
“The police who are here to maintain order tried to appeal to the Igwe’s faction not to enter the Mgbako Alor meeting venue for the sake of peace but it wasn’t quite successful,” the news channel reported.
“After the mild drama, the minister of labour reels out his leadership credentials and accuses those he considers beneficiaries of disunity of promoting the crisis in the town’s union. The factional leaders of the Alor People’s Assembly disagree on the process that led to the emergence of the disputed leadership.
“The meeting may have ended but the leadership crisis seems far from over as both camps maintain a hard stance. Many groups have been suing for peace in Alor, looking to the state government to ensure there is no breakdown in law and order and to the different factions to embrace dialogue.”
President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, under which Ngige serves as a minister, has been accused of encouraging the abuse of human rights.
“Impunity remained widespread at all levels of government. The government did not adequately investigate or prosecute most of the major outstanding allegations of human rights violations by the security forces or the majority of cases of police or military extortion or other abuse of power,” the United States said in a report released in 2018.
In 2019, Omoyele Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reports and former presidential candidate, was detained by the State Security Service for over 140 days despite multiple court orders granting him bail.