The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has reported that their president, Joe Ajaero, was subjected to a severe violation of his human rights and physically assaulted by the police in Imo State.
This statement was issued by the Deputy President of the NLC, Adeyanju Adewale, during a press conference convened to address the incident.
Detailing the events as they unfolded, Adewale described, “They arrived in a convoy of vehicles and heavily armed personnel, concealed and carrying advanced weaponry. Comrade Joe Ajaero was blindfolded, subjected to brutal physical abuse, humiliation, and mistreatment by the police officers. He was subsequently taken to an undisclosed location where he endured further physical assault and threats to his life, until the intervention of the National Security Adviser, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, led to his immediate release.”
“However, due to the severity of his injuries, the police transported him to the police headquarters. We made contact with him at 3:30 pm. At the time of our initial contact with Comrade Joe Ajaero, his right eye exhibited swelling and discoloration, one of his ears displayed minor traces of dried blood, and he had welts on his body. He was disoriented, unable to recognize those around him, and unable to walk unaided. Consequently, he was transferred to the Federal Medical Centre in Owerri, Imo State, for further medical evaluation.”
“At the Federal Medical Centre, Comrade Ajaero, following initial stabilization, underwent a series of medical assessments, including a head abrasion scan, full body scan, chest X-ray, full body scan, and cervical spine therapy, among other evaluations. To ensure his safety, he was fitted with a neck collar.”
Adewale emphasized that multiple individuals, including workers and television crew members, suffered physical assault and had their personal belongings confiscated by the police. He asserted that the TV crew had their equipment seized because it contained evidence the police wished to keep from public view.
Furthermore, the NLC deputy alleged that the governor of Imo State had deployed individuals who acted as thugs at the secretariat, where they assaulted people and confiscated their personal belongings, including money, phones, and electronic devices.
He voiced his concerns, stating, “We are deeply troubled by the fact that peaceful gatherings for protest by workers in Nigeria, a right guaranteed by Section 40 of the Nigerian Constitution and international conventions like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, and Conventions 87 and 98 that uphold the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, have been criminalized. It is even more disconcerting that these violations persist, especially while Nigeria holds the position of Chairman of the governing board of the International Labour Organization (ILO).”