The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajaero has narrated how he was handed over to thugs by the Police who beat him and dragged him on the ground.
But a now humble Governor Hope Uzodinma, who initially seemed to justify the attack on the labour leader, has finally apologised to him, but noted that he should have approached matters in a more civilized manner.
The NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC) had insisted the governor purge himself of his recalcitrance and apologise for the attack on Ajaero, amidst allegations he orchestrated the attack.
“I was unaware of the presence of the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in my state. My initial response was to condemn the action. I have never been at odds with the labour union.
“The incident has nothing to do with my government. Whether Joe Ajaero is the president of NLC or not, I would not wish this to happen to any individual. I must apologize because it occurred in my state.
“As a Christian who believes in God, I cannot support violence and would never advocate for it. Whatever transpired, leading to the assault on Joe Ajaero in my state, of which I was unaware, is regrettable, and both my government and I express remorse.
“Moving forward, I also hope he approaches matters in a more civilized manner. That was the essence of my point. For a native of my state to take to the streets without engaging me, without presenting the allegations to me.”
Ajaero said that he was arrested in Owerri by the Police who handed him over to waiting thugs that thoroughly maltreated him.
In Abuja on Friday, the Labour chief said the thugs who were about seven in number dragged him on the floor like a common criminal.
Contrary to claims by government officials he disclosed that the NLC wrote to all the security agencies before they went to the state for the protest on November I.
According to him, workers who arrived at the venue of the protest on that day around 7 a.m were beaten up by thugs with their phones seized.
Ajaero said he got there around 9 a.m after he got the report of an assault on workers, adding that the police arrested him and handed him over to thugs.
“I can’t explain the beating I received. They tied my hands and dragged me on the floor like a common criminal.”
“Before, I could even address the journalists, police and other people in mufti came in and withdrew all the security there.
“They arrested me and handed me over to thugs who dragged me on the ground, hit me with all manner of things and tied my eyes. There were about seven of them.
“They started asking me why I was challenging Gov. Hope Uzodimma and that I should say my last prayers and that they were going to throw me into Njaba River.
“From there, I did not know how the same people to police headquarters. But I thank God that I am alive today,”he said.
He also noted that Uzodimma had also accused him of playing local politics.
The NLC president said that he not a card carrying member of any political party in Nigeria.
“I do not have any family members or whatever running for election but they are free to run if they are interested.
“‘If I want to run for any office tomorrow, I will pick the form of any party.
“As a governor, he should be privileged to some classified information to say which political party I belong to,” he said.
In an earlier statement by the Imo State Police Command said the NLC President was taken into protective custody to save him from a mob attack.
The statement by Nigerian Police by Imo Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Okoye Henry.
Read the statement: “The Imo State Police Command wishes to clarify some sketchy reports alleging the arrest of the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Joe Ajaero, in Owerri.
“It is pertinent to state that the NLC President was in Owerri as part of arrangements of the Congress to mobilise workers for a mega protest rally in the state. 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 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.”