The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) will commence a nationwide industrial action starting on Tuesday, November 14, at midnight, in protest against the brutal attack on Comrade Joe Ajaero in Imo that was allegedly aided by the men of the Nigerian Police Force.
Members of all the affiliate unions of the two labour centres across the nation will withdraw their service until otherwise directed.
The NLC General Secretary, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja, reiterated this in Abuja at a press conference where the battered Congress President, Joe Ajaero, addressed the press on his ordeal at the hands of his adductors in Owerri
Ajaero explained that the action in Owerri had already been planned as part of the Congress’s action plan to protest in some states where workers’ rights are being trampled upon, as NLC nationals did in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and Kaduna, Kaduna State, in defence of their members in the recent past.
In reaction to the question of the timing of the protest, he said the NLC wisely decided to take action now rather than wait for a new government to emerge in Imo. “People would have still asked what we were waiting for all the years if we had waited for a new government to emerge in Imo State. Our mission in Imo was purely in the interest of workers. How can the state governor not have money to pay workers but have enough to settle certain elders of the state monthly?” He added
Furthermore, he narrated: “We heard that the workers who had arrived at the protest venue as early as 7 a.m. were beaten and chased away. So I arrived there by 9 a.m. with about 20 security personnel and was about to address journalists about the situation. When the police and other people in mufti came in and withdrew all the security there, they arrested me and handed me over to thugs who dragged me on the ground, hit me with all manner of things, and tied my eyes.
“They started asking me why I was challenging Governor Hope Uzodinma and that I should say my last prayers that they were going to throw me into the Njaba River. They said I was playing local politics. But I do not know which one is local politics.
I am not a card-carrying member of any political party in Nigeria. And as a governor, he should be privy to some classified information to say which political party I belong to. But I thank God that I am alive today. Whoever has diverted the workers’ money has diverted blood money and has attracted a generational curse.”
He went on to say, “For those who said I was in Imo to aid the election of my family members, I am not sure that anyone from my village is contesting for even a counselling election, not to mention my family. Anybody who is supporting the non-payment of workers’ salaries—he and his family—will not work. That is the mission. It is a divine mission.
“I do not have any family members or whatever running for office, but they are free to run if they are interested. If I want to run for any office tomorrow, I will pick the form of any party. There is no law that forbids a civil servant from contesting elections. The appeals court has also made it clear that you do. It needs permission for a protest or rally. You only inform security.
“There were some media organisations whose staff were humiliated on that day. Two TVC staff were handcuffed. Were they also playing politics? And the TVC has kept criminal silence about it. Why has the NUJ not said a word about the humiliation of journalists? Not even my death could have stopped the struggle for the payment of those workers. If I had died in the process, the people who would take over would have been more daring.
Any of the deputies here that would take over would have been more decisive. So no one is backing out; it is a question of allowing justice to prevail, and the people you are owing, you pay them.”
In addition, NLC GS, Emmanuel, says, “We will not accept the torture, humiliation, and brutalization of a citizen, a citizen that has global stature. There have been calls from all over the world to clarify what transpired and the status of Joe Ajaero. So, if people from across the world are calling and your own country is not speaking, it means that there is something they know that we do not know.
“So, from Tuesday, the Nigerian workers under NLC and TUC will be withdrawing their services. The president of NLC and his team were used as the point of contact, and hundreds of workers were actually brutalised. Their phones, money, and wallets were taken. He is just the figurehead of what transpired. And as we speak, nothing has been done. So, we cannot continue like this as a nation