7TH OF MARCH, 2023
AGENTS OF IMO STATE GOVERNMENT UNLEASH MAYHEM ON NIGERIAN WORKERS
One of the cardinal principles of good governance is the pursuit of the security of the lives and properties of the citizenry from criminal elements. Imo state today however witnessed the unleashing of brigandage and mayhem on hapless workers and citizens unbelievably by agents of the state government. Instead of securing the lives of citizens, the government allowed the use of thugs against its own people.
NLC in keeping with its democratic culture and practices had instructed its State Councils throughout the federation to prepare for State Delegates’ Conference. Accordingly, officials of the Congress were deployed to various states to act as Returning officers in the elections that are supposed to usher in new leadership in the respective councils in accordance with the statutes governing our operations. This Conference is taking place today Tuesday, the 7th of March everywhere in Nigeria.
However, the government of Imo State in their usual characteristics sought to influence the outcome of the elections in the State. This meddlesomeness was resisted by the Delegates who refused the unholy offerings and baits to vote for their chosen candidates. The resolve of the Delegates in session did not go down well with the Government and their agents who resorted to the use of violence to beat up delegates and scatter the venue of the Conference.
When it was obvious to the Government and their goons that their stooges were going to overwhelmingly lose in the elections, thugs who were armed to the teeth descended on the Delegates inflicting various degrees of injuries on them, chasing them away and carting away materials meant for the conduct of the elections that was supposed to be at the heart of the Conference. As if that was not enough, Security agents led by the Police and the so-called State Investigative Bureau invaded the venue and completed the sordid episode.
It is blood cuddling and inexcusable to mete out this level of violence on workers who gathered peacefully to perform their democratic rights of electing their leaders. Our nation requires great restraint at this time and not this aggressive use of forces of brigandage against the people. Nigerians have suffered enormously and what happened today in Owerri truly deepens the anger of the ordinary citizens and creates more spaces for dangerous eruption in our polity.
NLC considers this the height of irresponsibility thus unacceptable and falls far below accepted standards of behaviour by individuals who occupy high offices in Nigeria especially the Government of States. It truly does demonstrate the level of decay that has continued to fester in leadership circles in the country. It does also show the level of militarisation that pervades the state from one end to another and we also feel that it may be a serious pointer to the source of the violence in the state which has made the state the epicentre of killings and brigandage in the South East.
We therefore call on all well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the government of Imo state to mind its business and focus more on rendering good governance to the people and allow us continue setting good examples on how transition of power ought to be. They cannot choose our leaders for us and ought to learn from other Governments the nuances of engagement and not this brazen resort to brute force and bloodletting. It is on record that no Government in any other state has resorted to this level of rascality and depravity in engaging our members in this Conference.
Perhaps, it is a carry over from the violent habits they have learnt from being Nigerian politicians that has propelled him into this banditry against workers whom he has sworn to protect at inauguration. Exporting his violent understanding of politics into purely workers activities transcends the boundaries of debauchery thus totally abhorrent to modern human societies.
The NLC holds the Governor and his Government responsible for any loss of life in this wanton display of hooliganism against unarmed Nigerian workers who were going about their lawful business of organising a statutory Delegates’ Conference.
We call on the Federal Government especially the Security agencies to call the errant Government to order before it turns the state into graveyard for workers and men of decency. His Excellency the President of the Federal Republic must urgently restrain the Government from destroying our hallowed rules of engagement in the Industrial Relations sphere which demands an understanding of the rights and privileges of the Social Partners. The Inspector General of Police must at this time step in to stop the use of his men in unleashing terror on Nigerians which seem to have become the hallmark of the Governor of Imo State.
If nothing is done to restrain this Governor, we warn that we will not fold our hands and watch the government and its agents destroy our properties, maim the lives of our members and spilling their innocent blood in attempts to intimidate and harass them into doing their bidding. We shall be forced to mobilise our members nation-wide to take action against this violence to avert it from spreading to other parts of the country.
Consequently, the Imo state government has forced us to withdraw peaceful industrial relations engagement with it starting from tomorrow, Wednesday the 8th day of March, 2023. This is to protect our members and workers in Imo state from further exposure to the violence that has become apparent in the State. Since the safety of workers is no longer guaranteed by the government, it behoves us to protect ourselves by staying at home. This therefore directs all workers in Imo State to proceed on indefinite industrial action.
Furthermore and sync with our traditions, we announce the establishment of a Caretaker Committee to run the affairs of the Congress in Imo State. Members who start work immediately are as follows:
- Comrade Ofoegbu George Ugochukwu (NASU) – Chairperson
- Comrade Nwaigwe Deborah Ngozi (NUPENG) – Vice Chairperson
- Comrade Mbakwe Augustine Ibechole (NUEE) – Member
- Comrade Chukwude James (AUPCTRE) – Member
- Comrade Ugwu Nnabugwu (MHWUN) – Member
- Comrade Frank Uchehara (NURTW) – Member
- Comrade Anukwuorji Nduka Peter – Secretary
Once again the Police must immediately investigate this bloodletting today against our members and affiliates in Owerri. This is the only way we would be comforted with the knowledge that the Police is not in cahoots with those who sought to spill the blood of our members today in Imo State. This violence is a contagion and it is the duty of the Security agencies to nip it in the bud before it becomes the spark that sets our nation on fire.
Nigerian workers are not pawns and should not be turned into cannon fodders by politicians of whatsoever hue and standing. A redress is demanded immediately.
Comrade Joe Ajaero