Operatives of the Nigeria Police Force apprehended the National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, in Owerri, the capital of Imo State. The arrest transpired amid brewing tensions as the NLC had announced its intention to mobilize for a statewide strike commencing on November 1.
The Head of Information for the NLC, Benson Upah, confirmed the arrest, revealing that Ajaero was taken into custody at the NLC state council secretariat in Owerri. He was subsequently transported to an undisclosed location.
Ajaero’s apprehension follows his accusations against the Imo State Government for alleged violations of workers’ rights. During a press briefing on Sunday, Ajaero accused Governor Hope Uzodimma’s administration of neglecting the welfare of Nigerian workers in the state. He highlighted several grievances, including the failure to implement previous agreements, outstanding salary arrears spanning approximately 20 months, the unjust declaration of workers and pensioners as “ghost” beneficiaries, and the unresolved gratuity arrears.
Ajaero claimed that roughly 10,000 pensioners had been wrongly labeled as “ghost pensioners,” leading to over 22 months of unpaid pensions. Additionally, around 11,000 workers were allegedly declared as “ghost workers” by the Imo State Government. The NLC president also expressed concerns about the state government’s non-compliance with the national minimum wage and its reluctance to engage in social dialogue and collective bargaining to address the workers’ issues.
The situation in Imo State remains tense as the NLC had vowed to proceed with its planned strike despite the arrest of its national president. The labor union is seeking to address the grievances of workers and pensioners, highlighting the need for improved working conditions and the resolution of longstanding issues.
As events continue to unfold, the fate of Joe Ajaero and the NLC’s strike action in Imo State remains uncertain. This situation underscores the ongoing challenges facing workers and the labor movement in Nigeria, as they strive for better working conditions and the protection of workers’ rights.