In response to the assault on Joe Ajaero, the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the National Security Adviser (NSA), Nuhu Ribadu, announced on Wednesday that an investigation has been initiated into the incident that occurred in Owerri, Imo State, on November 1, 2023.
The assault took place as Ajaero prepared to lead a protest against alleged anti-labour practices by the Governor Hope Uzodimma-led administration, prompting nationwide strikes by the NLC seeking justice for their leader. The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kayode Egbetokun, had redeployed the then Commissioner of Police in the state, Mohammed Barde, under whose watch the incident happened, and ordered an investigation into the assault.
However, the President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Festus Osifo, expressed reservations about the IGP’s probe and called on the NSA to lead the investigation, citing concerns about the IGP’s perceived compromise.
In response, the NSA, through a statement from the Head of Strategic Communication in the NSA Office, Zakari Mijinyawa, expressed regret over the incident and condemned it as a violation of the rule of law and principles of freedom of association and expression. The statement affirmed that the Federal Government, under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration, would not condone such acts.
The NSA confirmed that relevant authorities had been directed to conduct a thorough investigation into the assault, and arrests had already been made. The statement assured that the outcome of the investigation would be made public upon its conclusion.
The Federal Government, represented by the Office of the NSA, appealed to the leadership of the labor unions to call off the ongoing strike and allow the dialogue process to be exhausted. The statement emphasized the government’s commitment to addressing the incident through the rule of law and urged cooperation from the labor leadership for a peaceful resolution.