Nigerian Labour Congress President beaten and arrested!

01 November 2023

Press statement by the ISp affiliate in Nigeria, the Revolutionary Socialist Movement


• We demand an immediate release of the NLC president

• Struggle against Governor Hope Uzodinma’s anti workers policies must continue

• For mass protests and strikes to demand the release of the NLC president now!

The attention of the Revolutionary Socialist Movement (RSM) has been drawn to the news of the series of attacks on the Imo state workers and the arrest and harassment of the NLC president, Comrade Joe Ajaero by the men of the Police and the state-sponsored thugs. As we gathered, lots of workers were wounded and are currently hospitalized due to the injuries sustained during the attack by the sponsored thugs. This event further reflects the rottenness of the capitalist system and the kind of political officeholders in Nigeria.

The incident occurred in the early hours of November 1, 2023, during a peaceful protest organized by the Imo State workers to demand payment of the backlog of salaries and reject other anti-workers policies of the Hope Uzodinma-led Imo State Government. According to reports, sponsored thugs of the state governor were the first to attack the protesting workers before the men of the Police started harassing the leaders of the protest. The protest was a product of the refusal of the state government to pay workers’ salaries and tagging them as “ghost workers”. This prompted the intervention of the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in the protest action by the acclaimed “ghost” workers.

We hold that the attack on Joe Ajaero is an attack on all Nigerian workers and should be resisted. Also, the event is a test experiment on the workers by the state to spread panic. Similarly, the lies by the PRO of Imo State Police Command, ASP Okoye Henry, that the National President of NLC “was taken to protective custody at state command headquarters to ensure the safety of his life” despite glaring evidence of the attack by the men of the Police is another evidence that the ruling elites cannot be trusted. Even, Ajaero reported that he was beaten up and blindfolded and taken to an unknown destination where more brutalisation took place, sometimes with bottles. Also, he said that his phones, money, and other personal effects were taken from him and have not been returned.

Hence, we call on other sections of the Nigerian workers union to stand in solidarity with the Imo State workers and declare general strikes to demand the unconditional release of comrade Joe Ajaero and others who have been illegally arrested. We call for unity of all trade union affiliates of NLC and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) to condemn the arrest and stand in solidarity and struggle for the release of the arrested workers including comrade Joe Ajaero and also demand justice for those who are been injured by identifying the police officers and prosecuting them.

No justice, no peace; the governor has invited anarchy and must witness stiff resistance from the mass of the working people. Beyond a call for justice, workers must stand in unity to demand accountability from Governor Uzodima and other governors who melt out anti-worker policies daily even though many of them are living on jumbo pay and security votes.

While we salute the courage of the Nigeria Union of Electricity Employees which has declared an indefinite general strike until the NLC president is released, we call for wider solidarity among other workers movement. To avoid future occurrences, all these struggles must be linked to fighting for a new minimum wage and payment of all outstanding arrears for workers and pensioners. Also, workers must be prepared to seize power and enthrone a socialist government because it is until the collective resources are put under the democratic control and management of the working people that all of the challenges facing Nigeria as a whole can be totally eradicated.

Salako Kayode
Publicity Secretary, RSM

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