Organised labour, made up of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), has begun mobilising its affiliates and state councils ahead of the total shutdown of the nation on Wednesday.
The NLC and TUC had on Friday resolved to embark on a nationwide strike to protest the brutal attack on the President of the NLC, Joe Ajaero.
Recall that operatives of the Nigerian Police arrested Ajaero during a protest march organised by labour unions in Owerri, Imo State, in response to claims that the state government was abusing and violating the rights of its workers.
NLC alleged that Ajaero was brutalised by security agents attached to Governor Hope Uzodimma. However, the Imo Police command has refuted the allegations, saying he was not arrested but taken into protective custody.
Following the alleged assault, the organised labour demanded investigation and redeployment of the Commissioner of Police in Imo, sack of the Area Commander of the Police and all other officers and men in Owerri through whom the Police Commissioner supervised the attack as well as the arrest and immediate prosecution of Nwaneri Chinasa, an aide to the governor.
It was gathered that the National Executives Council (NEC) of the organised labour organs would meet in Abuja tomorrow to ratify the proposed nationwide strike.
Speaking to Daily Sun, one of the leaders of the NLC said that the strike would go on as scheduled, but the NEC of the two bodies had to give the directive.
The source said only the implementation of its demands can stop it from grounding the country. “We are all going to Abuja on Tuesday for the meeting. All the affiliates have fully mobilized for the action. We are all just waiting for the directives from the centre.”
According to the union official, the NLC and TUC were united in the struggle, and the TUC has equally scheduled its NEC meeting for tomorrow.
He said some events in recent times have further accentuated the fact for the nationwide shutdown.
“What has happened since that day, some information we are hearing have further made it worst, and we are prepared for the NEC’s directive,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the NLC has alleged an invasion and attack on Ajaero’s hometown of Azalla Owalla in Emekuku, Owerri, in Imo State.
The NLC, in a statement by the Head of Media and Information, Benson Upah, alleged that the latest attack on Ajaero’s community on Saturday could be a plot to assassinate the Congress boss.
“It is evident that the Governor’s sinister objective is the assassination of the President of the Congress, a motive laid bare by this latest act of aggression on the community,’ the statement read.
The statement said, “In a shocking turn of events, on the morning of November 4, 2023, Governor Hope Uzodimma once again demonstrated his utter disregard for human rights and democratic principles by invading and attacking the community.”
Upah said the invasion was carried out under the misguided belief that Ajaero was still present, recovering from injuries inflicted by the police and hired thugs.
He opined that the use of excessive force against citizens who hold differing opinions or dare to question the Governor’s governance style, particularly in relation to the inhumane treatment of workers in Imo State, is an affront to democracy.
He stated the current situation in Imo State is nothing short of a descent into fascism, where terror takes precedence over reason, and dialogue is pushed to the sidelines.
“It is imperative that the governor be held accountable. We believe that the President holds the means to rein in the excesses of the Governor, and these measures must be swiftly employed to safeguard lives and properties in the state.
“The people of Azalla Owalla are entitled to their peace, and the continued occupation of their community by the Police and Uzodimma’s thugs, in the wake of the assault on their fellow citizen, constitutes an ongoing insult.
“The occupying forces must immediately vacate the territory, granting the people the freedom to engage in their socioeconomic activities without the looming specter of terror,” the statement read further.