President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, tasted the high-handedness of Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State when he was arrested and brutalised by some operatives of the Nigeria Police in the state.
At a press briefing in Abuja, last Sunday, Ajaero had announced that the union would shut down the state capital, Owerri, due to alleged violation of workers’ rights by the state government.
As early as 8 am on Wednesday, workers started gathering at the state secretariat of the NLC for the protest but suddenly some men with weapons reportedly stormed the secretariat and attacked the workers and chased them away.
It was learnt that the workers later re-assembled at the secretariat, led by both Ajaero and General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja, to commence the protest.
Just as Ajaero was about to address the gathering, a team of heavily- armed policemen arrested him alongside some officials of NLC and took them to their popular dreaded base called Tiger Base.
Confirming the development to journalists via telephone, the Head of Information and Publicity at the NLC, Benson Upah said the NLC president was abducted by policemen armed to their teeth at the Imo State NLC secretariat.
Also, while giving the account of the incident, the Chief of Staff to the NLC president, Chris Onyeka, said he was standing with Ajaero when he was brutalised and arrested.
Meanwhile, Ajaero was released by the security forces at about 3pm with serious injuries on his body and was later hospitalised.
The state governorship election comes up on November 11 and Governor Uzodimma is seeking a reelection with alleged desperation.
Even though the state government has denied having anything to do with the brutality, since Uzodimma became governor, the state has not known peace. This is why the NLC president needed to have been circumspect. He could have allowed the election to be over before going to the state for the protest.
However, it is unfortunate that the police had to brutalise Ajaero. The Nigeria Police are always very effective in dehumanising unarmed citizens.
When it comes to using the police to brutalise political opponents, state governors are also very effective as chief security officers of their states. But when they should use them to tackle unknown gunmen and other agents of insecurity, they would always claim that the police are not under their control and supervision.