NLC President Ajaero’s Health Critical After Imo State Attack

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NLC President Ajaero's Health Critical After Imo State Attack
Imo State Assault: NLC President’s Health Deteriorates

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has reported that its President, Joe Ajaero, is in critical health condition following a severe beating he received from alleged state agents, including policemen, in Owerri, the capital of Imo State. Ajaero and other labor leaders had gathered at the NLC State secretariat to protest various labor-related issues, such as unpaid salaries, allowances, pensions, gratuities, and non-compliance with the National Minimum Wage Act.

After being released from police custody, Ajaero was found to be in a weakened state, wearing a neck collar with visible injuries on his skin. He was subsequently referred for various medical examinations, including ophthalmic, head/brain scans, full-body scans, and cervical spine therapy.

Chris Onyeka, an Assistant General Secretary and Chief of Staff to the NLC President, expressed concern over Ajaero’s deteriorating health, mentioning that there were fears he might have been injected with a substance. Onyeka also highlighted that Ajaero and other labor leaders were brutally beaten and had their personal belongings confiscated.

The NLC had initially planned a protest in Imo State but suspended the action due to the assault on Ajaero and other labor leaders. The NLC and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) are set to meet to decide on their response to the attack.

Various individuals and groups have condemned the attack on Ajaero:

Mr. Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the February 2023 Presidential election, criticized the attack as an act of lawlessness, impunity, criminality, and rascality, highlighting its negative implications for the state of affairs in Nigeria.

Aviation unions, including the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), and the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP), threatened to disrupt flights nationwide in response to the attack.

The National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) condemned the attack as an uncivilized act in a democratic setting.

The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) called on President Bola Tinubu to order relevant agencies to identify and prosecute those responsible for the brutalization of Ajaero and other labor leaders.

The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) denounced the attack and called for a proper investigation and punishment for the perpetrators.

The Labour Writers Association of Nigeria (LAWAN) described the attack as a shameful act and a slap to Nigerian workers, democracy, and the citizens of Imo State.

Various individuals and socio-cultural groups in Imo State also expressed their outrage at the assault on Ajaero, with some labeling it a murder attempt.

Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State denied owing salaries for 40 months and accused Ajaero of politicizing labor activities in the state. He asserted that his administration had been regularly paying salaries and implementing reforms in the civil service.

The Imo State Police Command defended its actions, stating that the NLC did not inform them about the planned rally, and they had a court injunction against organizing such events. They also claimed that they had rescued Ajaero and provided medical assistance. However, they pledged to investigate any allegations of police involvement in the assault.

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