The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, has been arrested in Owerri, the capital of Imo State. He was apprehended by heavily armed police officers at the NLC State Council Secretariat and subsequently taken to an undisclosed location.
This dramatic development transpired amid a statewide protest and strike led by the NLC in Owerri. The protest, aimed at highlighting issues such as the alleged lack of respect for workers, unpaid salaries, and pensions, took a surprising turn when Joe Ajaero was detained.
Benson Uper, the Head of Media at the NLC Headquarters, confirmed the arrest via a WhatsApp message to Channels Television. According to sources, Ajaero was taken into custody just as he was about to lead an ‘Occupy Imo’ protest scheduled for the day.
The police reportedly cited a court order from the National Industrial Court, which allegedly prohibited the NLC and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) from staging any protests in the state, as the reason for Ajaero’s arrest. However, the police spokesperson in Imo, Henry Okoye, claimed not to have comprehensive information on the situation but assured that he would provide updates as soon as they become available.
Meanwhile, the NLC leadership in Imo has distanced itself from the ongoing protest, asserting that the accusations against the state government made by the NLC’s national leadership are unfounded.
The arrest of Joe Ajaero has sparked concerns and raised questions about the rights to peaceful assembly and protest in Nigeria, as well as the broader implications for the labor movement in the country.