We Didn’t Arrest NLC President, Ajaero, We Only Put Him Under Protective Custody — Police Clarify

The Imo State Police Command has denied arresting Joe Ajaero, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).

According to reports, Ajaero was arrested in Owerri, the Imo State capital.

It was gathered that he was picked up from the NLC State Council Secretariat by heavily armed policemen and taken to an unknown destination.

Reacting via a statement signed by its General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja, and Comrade Nuhu Toro, Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the Organised Labour alleged that the Imo state government has continued to use violence and intimidation against trade unions and their leadership in the State.

“Just as Nigerian workers gathered earlier this morning led by the leadership of the two labour centres to demonstrate our outrage over the serial and habitual abuse and violation of the rights of workers in the state; the Government unleashed blood-cuddling mayhem on the workers,” they said.

On Ajaero’s alleged arrest, spokesperson of the Imo State Police Command, Henry Okoye, in a statement, said Ajaero was taken to safety following a scuffle that broke out in a meeting by NLC members in Owerri.

“The Imo State Police Command wishes to clarify some sketchy reports alleging the arrest of the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Joe Ajaero, in Owerri.

“It is pertinent to state that the NLC President was in Owerri as part of arrangements of the Congress to mobilize workers for a mega protest rally in the state.

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“In the course of their planning, it was reported that suggestions arose for the lockdown of some essential facilities particularly the airport which led to some workers and other individuals resisting the picketing process leading to scuffles and heated arguments and an eventual attack on the person of the president by a mob.

“Upon receiving this report, the Imo Police Command swiftly deployed police operatives to the scene where the Officer in Charge exercised his operational discretion by taking the NLC President into protective custody at the State Command Headquarters to ensure the protection of his life and that he was not lynched in the scuffle that followed,” the statement read.

Okoye explained that the Commissioner of Police thereafter directed that the NLC president be taken to the Police Medical Services, Owerri, where he would be accorded medical attention as a result of the attack.

According to him, Ajaero has been accorded adequate security cover to proceed on his other legitimate engagements for the day.

He furthered that it is necessary to emphasize the existence of a court injunction from the National Industrial Court of Nigeria in Owerri with Suit No. NICN/OW/41/2023 dated 27th October, 2023, barring the NLC from holding the intended protest rally in Owerri.

The State Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Ahmed Barde, Okoye said, urged all concerned parties to ensure compliance with the Court directives.

This he explained is to avoid jeopardizing the current security arrangements in Owerri and other parts of Imo State, even as the State gears up for the November 11 electioneering process.