NLC President Joe Ajaero Arrested
The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, has been taken into custody by the police in Owerri, the capital of Imo State.
Ajaero was arrested at the NLC State Council Secretariat by heavily armed police officers and his current location is unknown.
The Head of Media at the NLC Headquarters, Benson Uper, shared this information through a WhatsApp message to Channels Television.
The NLC is leading a protest and strike in Owerri due to issues like workers not being respected, unpaid salaries, and pensions.
According to a source, Ajaero was arrested at the NLC secretariat in Imo when he was about to lead a protest called ‘Occupy Imo’ scheduled for today.
The police claim that Ajaero was arrested because he violated a court order from the National Industrial Court, which prohibited the NLC and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) from organizing any protests in the state.
The police spokesperson in Imo, Henry Okoye, said he currently has no information about the arrest and will provide updates once he understands the situation better.
Police Claim Ajaero is in Protective Custody
However, the state police state that Ajaero is in protective custody.
In a statement by the police spokesperson, Okoye Henry, it is mentioned, “During their planning, it was reported that there were suggestions to close down essential facilities, including the airport, which led to resistance from some workers and individuals. This resulted in arguments and an attack on the president by a mob.”
“In response to this report, the Imo Police Command quickly deployed officers to the scene. The officer in charge used his discretion and took the NLC President into protective custody at the State Command Headquarters to ensure his safety and prevent him from being harmed in the ensuing scuffle.”
“The Commissioner of Police then ordered that he be taken to the Police Medical Services in Owerri for medical attention due to the attack. He has been provided with adequate security to continue with his other legitimate activities for the day.”
“It is important to note that there is a court injunction from the National Industrial Court of Nigeria in Owerri, with Suit No. NICN/OW/41/2023 dated October 27, 2023, which prohibits the NLC from holding the planned protest rally in Owerri.”
Meanwhile, the NLC leadership in Imo has distanced itself from the protest, stating that the allegations made by the national NLC leadership against the state government are false.
Organized Labor Accuses Imo Government
In a statement, the national NLC and TUC leadership in Abuja accused the Imo State Government of intimidating trade unions in the state.
However, the Imo State Government denied involvement in Ajaero’s arrest.
The state’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, questioned why Ajaero was in Owerri, defying the court order that warned of severe consequences for disobedience.
The government claims that according to the information they received, there may have been a clash between lawful workers from Imo State and “lawless invaders” from Abuja, which led to police intervention to maintain peace.