Imo State Labor Protest Turns Violent, NLC President Detained

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr
Imo State Labor Protest Turns Violent, NLC President Detained
Violence Breaks Out as Labor Leaders Rally in Imo State

In a recent incident during the ongoing Organised Labour protest in Owerri, the capital of Imo State, Nigeria, there were reports of violence and arrests involving the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, and other labor leaders. The situation escalated as thugs targeted labor leaders and protesters, resulting in injuries, damage to vehicles, and theft of personal belongings, including phones, money, and ATM cards.

The protest, organized by the NLC and their counterparts from the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), was aimed at addressing various labor-related issues, including unpaid salaries, allowances, and perceived mistreatment by the Imo State government. Among the grievances were the failure to implement previous agreements, outstanding salary arrears, accusations of declaring workers as ghost workers, the destruction of the NLC state secretariat, discriminatory pay practices, and unpaid gratuity arrears.

The incident unfolded when workers began gathering at the NLC State secretariat around 8 am to commence the planned protest. Suddenly, a group of thugs, armed with dangerous weapons and traveling in about ten mini-buses, stormed the Secretariat, attacking labor leaders and workers, causing chaos and forcing many to flee.

Despite the initial disruption, the workers regrouped at the Secretariat, led by NLC President Joe Ajaero and General Secretary Emma Ugboaja, in an attempt to proceed with the protest. However, while Ajaero was addressing the gathering, a team of armed policemen and unidentified individuals in trucks arrived at the scene, arresting him, other labor leaders, and some journalists. The situation escalated further as gunshots were fired.

There were reports of an unconfirmed fatality during the incident, with a unionist allegedly killed, and a TVC camera operator arrested and his equipment damaged.

NLC’s Head of Information and Publicity, Benson Upah, confirmed Ajaero’s arrest, describing it as an abduction that escalated into attempted murder. According to Upah, Ajaero was severely beaten and blindfolded, with his personal belongings confiscated. He was later released and hospitalized for treatment, with injuries sustained during the ordeal.

In response to the incident, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) expressed strong condemnation and threatened a nationwide strike in protest of the attack and brutalization of NLC President Joe Ajaero and other labor leaders. NUPENG President Prince Williams Akporeha denounced the violence and called for the release of state workers in Imo State.

The Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN) also condemned the brutalization of labor leaders and reported that two of its national officials were among those injured during the incident. MWUN President Prince Adewale Adeyanju called for the release of Comrade Joe Ajaero and emphasized the importance of a legitimate mass demonstration to address the concerns of the people.

Additionally, the Joint Action Front (JAF), a pro-labor civil society group, decried the arrest and assault of Joe Ajaero, stating that it was a direct affront to the labor movement. JAF’s Secretary, Abiodun Aremu, emphasized the need for a strong response from the labor movement.

Follow talkGlitz on Instagram TalkGlitz on Twitter

Comments are closed.