In retaliation for the recent abduction and physical assault of their president, Joe Ajaero, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) have declared plans to commence a nationwide strike on November 8, beginning on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the Imo State Police Command, purportedly operating under the direction of the State Governor, abducted Ajaero from the NLC state council secretariat in Owerri, where he was awaiting the presence of colleagues to participate in a nonviolent demonstration.
As per the labor unions, Ajaero was subjected to severe abuse and torture, including being beaten to a pulp, brutalized, humiliated, and violated by police personnel. He was subsequently transported to an unidentified location, where he endured further abuse and torture and was threatened with death. Eventually, “help” arrived in the form of National Security Adviser Nuhu Ribadu, who issued an order for his immediate release.
Comrade Nuhu Toro and Emmanuel Ugboaja, general secretaries of the labor union, jointly signed a statement on Friday that threatened a nationwide strike beginning on Wednesday, November 8 if the government failed to heed their demands.
“We further resolved that NLC, TUC, and their affiliates will no longer guarantee industrial peace in Nigeria beginning Wednesday, November 8, 2023, in the event the government fails to comply with any or all of the aforementioned conditions,” the statement continued. “A joint National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the two Labour Centres will determine the next course of action.”
In their demands, the labor unions demanded an investigation and the prompt termination of Cp. Ahmed Barde, the Imo State Commissioner of Police, on the grounds of his alleged collusion and unprofessional behavior.
“The document demanded the removal of the Nigeria Police Force Area Commander and all officers and men stationed in Owerri by whom the Police Commissioner oversaw the brutalization and humiliation of Comrade Ajaero and other workers, as well as their commissions,” added the document.
“I urge Comrade Joe Ajaero and Mr. Nwaneri Chinasa, Adviser on Special Duties who oversaw the terror inflicted on workers and the bestial brutality inflicted upon the Congress President, to be promptly apprehended and prosecuted for their heinous acts against both the workers and the President.”
The labor unions demanded that Ajaero undergo an immediate, impartial, and autonomous medical evaluation to determine the severity of his physical and mental harm.
Furthermore, the NLC and TUC petitioned for the resolution of all unresolved industrial relations matters that had been previously agreed upon, as well as the restoration of confiscated property belonging to journalists and other employees who had been subjected to inhumane treatment by the police.
The unions further elaborated on accusations that they had disregarded a court order, emphasizing the importance of transparency and accountability concerning the circumstances surrounding the order. They presented a list of grievances that prompted their intended nonviolent demonstration and demanded that these issues be resolved.
"The government consistently identified breaches in agreements it voluntarily established with labor, one of which occurred on January 9, 2021: The following incidents occurred: salaries and pensions were not paid for over 22 months, and in some cases, 44 months; 11,000 diligent employees were labeled “ghost workers” and their wages or emoluments were diverted to other purposes; the Congress secretariat was repeatedly vandalized without justification.