The Imo State Police Command, on Wednesday, said the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, is in protective custody, hours after the union accused the police of arresting its leader.
After the NLC raised an alarm that Ajaero was apprehended in Owerri, the police issued a statement, saying the Labour leader was placed in protective custody.
In a statement, the Command’s spokesperson, Okoye Henry, said police operatives decided that AJaero’s safety was their priority
Reports emerged that Ajaero was picked up from the NLC State Council Secretariat in Owerri, the state capital, by heavily armed policemen and taken to an unknown destination.
As a result, the Organised Labour put workers on alert for immediate nationwide action if the arrested President is not released by the end of today (Wednesday).
The NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) subsequently issued a statement shortly after Ajaero’s arrest, accusing the Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma and the Imo State Commissioner of Police of abducting the NLC leader.
“It is pertinent to state that the NLC President was in Owerri as part of arrangements of the Congress to mobilize workers for a mega protest rally in the state,” the police said.
“In the course of their planning, it was reported that suggestions arose for the lockdown of some essential facilities particularly the airport which led to some workers and other individuals resisting the picketing process leading to scuffles and heated arguments and an eventual attack on the person of the president by a mob.
“Upon receiving this report, the Imo Police Command swiftly deployed police operatives to the scene where the Officer in Charge exercised his operational discretion by taking the NLC President into protective custody at the State Command Headquarters to ensure the protection of his life and that he was not lynched in the scuffle that followed.
“The Commissioner of Police thereafter directed that he should be taken to the Police Medical Services, Owerri, where he would be accorded medical attention as a result of the attack. He has therefore been accorded adequate security cover to proceed on his other legitimate engagements for the day,” police spokesman, Okoye Henry, said in a statement.
The police spokesman also said there is an order from the National Industrial Court in Owerri barring the NLC from holding the intended protest rally in the state.
Specifically, the Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Ahmed Barde, urged all concerned parties to ensure compliance with the court directives to avoid jeopardising the current security arrangements in Owerri and other parts of Imo ahead of the November 11 governorship election in the state.