The Organised Labour, comprising of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress, on Friday, issued a five-day ultimatum over the earlier arrest of the National President of the NLC, Joe Ajaero, by the police in Owerri, Imo State, on Wednesday.
The labour centres demanded the redeployment of the commissioner of police in the state and the arrest and prosecution of the aide of the government who was alleged to have perpetrated the attack.
The unions also threatened to embark on a nationwide industrial action if their demands were not met in five days from Friday.
Ajaero was arrested by the police ahead of the state-wide protest in Imo on Wednesday. This was disclosed by the NLC’s Head of Information, Benson Upah.
Although the police denied arresting Ajaero, stating that he was merely taken into protective custody to prevent a mob attack, the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, accused the labour leader of meddling in the political affairs of the state.
The attack on the labour leader has been condemned by many prominent Nigerians and civil society organisations, including the presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 elections, Peter Obi, and human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN).
Meanwhile, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, in a statement signed by its President, Festus Osifo, and General Secretary, Mr Lumumba Okwugbawa, condemned the attack, directing members to prepare for industrial action over the unpardonable incident.
“Comrade Ajaero has been actively involved in promoting fair labour practices, advocating for better working conditions, and ensuring that workers’ rights are protected and his tireless efforts have contributed significantly to the improvement of workers’ lives and the advancement of social justice in our country.
“Violence against union leaders or any individuals fighting for the rights of workers is not only an attack on them personally but also undermines the fundamentals of social dialogue and activism. These acts of violence seek to silence the voices of those who speak up for the vulnerable and marginalised, and they must be vehemently condemned by society as a whole,” the statement partly read.
Also, the National Union of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employees in a statement by its President, Garba Ibrahim, and Secretary, Mike Olarenwaju, said the attack was totally condemnable.
Meanwhile, the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre has said the November 11 governorship poll in Imo may be marred with violence if the Federal Government does not step in and restore normalcy.
This is as the CSO noted that there have been steady incidents of violence and repressive attacks on political opposition and critics of the government in Imo State under Uzodimma.