The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajaero, has been taken into custody by the police in Owerri, the capital of Imo State. This arrest unfolded during an ongoing protest organized by NLC members in the state, which has been marked by a disturbing escalation of tensions.
The protest initially intended to voice grievances over the alleged violation and abuse of workers’ rights and privileges by the State government, took a troubling turn when it was infiltrated by miscreants. These individuals resorted to vandalism, damaging vehicles, and inflicting injuries on NLC members.
Ajaero’s arrest occurred as early as 8 a.m. on Wednesday, sending shockwaves through the labor community. The workers had convened at the state Secretariat of the NLC to express their concerns when a group of armed individuals forcibly dispersed them.
However, the workers regrouped at the Secretariat, this time led by the NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero, and General Secretary, Emma Ugboaja, to resume their peaceful protest.
As Ajaero was about to address the gathering, a team of heavily armed policemen arrived and took him into custody, along with several NLC officials. The situation escalated, with reports of multiple gunshots being fired to disperse the assembled workers.
Benson Upah, the NLC’s Head of Information and Publicity, confirmed Ajaero’s arrest, stating, “The NLC President was abducted by men suspected to be Policemen armed to their teeth at the Imo state NLC secretariat on Wednesday as we were about to commence our lawful protest against the violation of trade union rights of the workers.”
Chris Onyeka, NLC Deputy General Secretary and Chief of Staff to the NLC President, provided further insight into the incident, revealing that he was present with Ajaero when the arrest took place. This incident is a significant development that has drawn attention to the issue of workers’ rights and the role of law enforcement in protests.
“As workers were gathering to protest their maltreatment by the state government in Owerri, Imo state, and the President of NLC was about to address 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,” he said.