By Michael Oche
The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) has described the abduction of Comrade Joe Ajaero, president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) as an act that can only be perpetrated by totalitarian regimes to quiet the voices of their working citizens.
Joe Ajaero was whisked away by armed police operatives during a protest in Owerri on Wednesday. The workers were protesting unpaid salaries by the state government and the vandalisation of NLC offices in the state as well as other anti-democratic activities by the governor Hope Uzodinma.
CBTU in reaction to the assault on the NLC president described the action as “state sponsored kidnapping,” noting that when the rights of workers are threatened, the rights of a nation are suspended.
The CBTU said it stands in solidarity with Nigerian workers.
The statement reads in part, “In the Nigerian State of IMO, there has been repeated Labor actions and assaults on Labor activists fighting for their rights in a way reminiscent of the 1920’s in America. State police, similar to Pinkertons, brutally beat workers protesting.
“In the aftermath of the carnage, President Ajaero attempted to survey the landscape, meet with workers, comfort the injured, and engage with local Labor leadership. What he found were armed police ready to capture him and whisk him away in an act of state sponsored terrorism. To date no one has heard or seen from President Ajaero.”
“Workers make nations run and when they are under attack the nation is under seizure from internal terrorism. Nigeria has fought too hard and for too long to revert back to its totalitarianism past. Too many have suffered and sacrificed to have a democratic nation, for the ruling government to throw that all away.”
As at the time of this report, Comrade Joe Ajaero has been rushed to the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri where he is receiving medical attention.
The NLC head of Information and Publicity, Comrade Benson Upah, disclosed in a statement that Ajaero’s right eye is completely shut.
The update from Upah reads: “Contact has been made with Congress President, Comrade Joe Ajaero this evening around 15:30 hours at the Police Hospital in Owerri from where he was taken to Federal Medical Centre, Owerri where he is receiving medical attention.
“Thoroughly brutalized, his right eye at the time of contact was completely shut. Ajaero was beaten up blindfolded and taken to an unknown destination where more brutalisation took place, sometimes with bottles. His phones, money, and other personal effects were taken off him and have not been returned to him.”