Home Nigeria Passengers Stranded as NLC, TUC Picket Abuja Airport Over Ajaero’s Brutalisation

Passengers Stranded as NLC, TUC Picket Abuja Airport Over Ajaero’s Brutalisation

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) yesterday, blocked the entrance to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, due to last week’s brutalisation of the NLC President, Joe Ajaero in Imo state.

But the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, yesterday, urged the NLC and the TUC against disrupting aviation activities. The Minister while strongly criticising the mistreatment of Ajaero in Owerri, cautioned the union against playing partisan politics.
However, as part of reactions to the labour crisis precipitated by last week’s ill-fated protest in Imo state, the NLC said Ajaero would address a world press conference in Abuja, today (Friday) to give his own account of entire incident.

The workers’ industrial action caused a major disruption to the activities at the international airport, leaving most passenger to abandon their vehicles and trek to the airport longe.
Addressing the protesting workers, President of TUC, Festus Osifo, said the workers were protesting the unjust action meted out to Ajaero while carrying out his mandate of protecting workers right in Imo state.

He said the organised labour was determined to undertake series of actions until the government do the needful, to bring the Area Commander  of Police and those that allegedly perpetuated the  brutalisation and molestation workers in Imo state to book.
Osifo said:  “An injury to one is an injury to all. Somebody asked me why we are at the Abuja airport, is it a national issue. That the issue is in Imo State and we said no, the person that was brutalized is a national figure.

“Our president is a national figure and the Police that brutalised him is a national institution, they are not Imo State Police. The Police that brutalised him reports to the Inspector General of Police, who in turn reports to the President of Nigeria.
“So since this is a national issue we must make it one.
“Governor Hope Uzodinma cannot unleash thugs with the Nigerian Police in Imo State on someone who has been peacefully fighting for the interest of the Nigerian workers.

“For us we say no. What is happening is just the first stage of the of the series of activities that will happen, except the Nigerian government do the needful and arrest those people who perpetrated the evil act on the NLC president and Nigerian workers. “This is not acceptable and this must not be allowed by the Nigerian workers. Comrades let us be strong and this is a marathon. It is not a dash race, we are just starting until the government do the needful, the Area Commander that perpetuated this, that led those armed men that called themselves members of the Imo state Police are called to order.”

Osifo added: “They must be prosecuted and they must be brought to book. It is not just to transfer the Commissioner of Police in Imo State, there are series of actions that must be taken by the Nigerian government because an injury to one is an injuring all.”

Osifo said injustice was same anywhere, whether it happened in Imo State or in any state in Nigeria, adding that, “once you do this to any Nigerian worker, we have the right fight for the right of the particular person across the nation.”
Osifo said the uprising that happened sometime  in the Middle East was actually caused by one individual who was brutalised in Tunisia and it caused an uprising in the entire Middle East.

“The Nigerian president must act, the IGP must act and the time to act is now,” he said.

Similarly, the NLC General Secretary, Emma Ugboaja, urged them to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner and avoid being provoked to violence.

He said any security agent thinking molesting the workers should do well to go to parts of the country threatened by insurgents and exhibit their strength there.

Speaking to journalists one of the labour leaders said: ” We are here to protest the molestation and brutalisation meted out to the NLC president, Joe Ajaero while he was carrying out a lawful action to protect and defend the right of workers in Imo state last week.

“You could see how the security agents together with the thugs actually molested the president of NLC and the number one worker.

“This is a clear violation of the fundamental rights to freedom of a worker. When a worker fights for his rights in terms of wages and sacking of workers.”

When reminded that their protest at the Airport was causing disruption and preventing innocent citizens from traveling, the NLC chieftain said the intention was actually to ground any flight that comes into the international Airport and prevent it from lifting any passenger out of the airport.

“We want to draw the attention of government to this kind of insensitivity, this kind of authoritarian actions. It is a way to get the President of the country to address these issues.

“We see it as part of the struggle for the democratisation of Nigeria. It is wrong for this kind of tyrannical measures to be taking place under a democracy,” he added.

Meanwhile, Keyamo, has urged the NLC and TUC against disruption of aviation activities.

Keyamo in his X handle (formerly Twitter) noted that the Aviation Ministry was not involved in the alleged maltreatment of Ajaero by security agents and therefore should not be the target because of its economic importance for the development of our great nation.

According to him, “I condemn what happened to my friend, Ajaero. Nobody should get fisticuffs. But in the same breath, they should not find themselves in the realm of politics.”

He noted that the protest affected foreigners coming into the country as well as citizens going about their normal businesses as, according to him, the protesters disrupted aviation activities by blocking the access road to the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport.

Due to the development, Air Peace yesterday, announced the cancellation of its flights to the state.

A statement from the management stated, “We hereby notify the flying public that due to the industrial action being embarked upon in Imo State by the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress, the following flights have been cancelled for today: “Lagos-Owerri 12:00hrs, Owerri-Abuja 13:40hrs, Abuja-Owerri 15:20hrs, Owerri-Lagos 17:00hrs.

“While we are keeping tabs on the development, we regret the impact of this cancellation on the travel plans of affected passengers.”

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