By Ori Martins
It has been a case of fire works between the Imo State Government and the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, following the assault and attack on national labour president, Comrade Joe Ajero in Owerri, the Imo State capital. Ever since that incident, it has been claims and counter claims between both bodies as to who did or didn’t do what thereby getting the public confused about the real issue at stake.
Shortly after the brutal attack on the NLC boss in which pictures of him indicated that he almost lost his eyes, the national leadership of labour, in a press statement, indicted officilas of the Nigeria Police, Imo State Command as well as aides of Governor Hope Uzodimma led by Chief Chinaza Nwaneri.
The NLC gave a vivid account of how the dastardly act perpetrated against Ajero allegedly by the Imo State Government was carried out. It noted that Uzodimma’s Special Adviser on Special Duties, Nwaneri, in the full glare of security operatives, manhandled Ajero for the sole reason that he called for a strike against the state government over the Imo governor’s non compliance regarding workers’ wages.
On the other hand, the Imo State Government, through the commissioner of information, Hon Declean Mbadiwe Emulumba, debunked labour’s claims and rather stated that “No government official was involved in the attack on Ajero”.
Emelumba maintained that the administration of Governor Uzodimma had always tried as much as possible to protect the lives and properties of Imo citizens and all who reside therein and made it clear that the government had done or carried out any act of illegaility that would have propelled it to start confronting the organized labour not more to brutally attack the national labour leader.
Another source very close to the Imo State Government pointed out that Ajero “was all out to use the platform of the NLC to destabilize the state especially at a time the much talked about November 11,2023 off cycle governorship election was around the corner”. The source accused Ajero of working in alliance with the opposition to destabilize the Imo State Government headed by Uzodimma.
Just last week, Ajero himself opened up on how he was attacked in Owerri. He made it boldly clear that his attackers were agents of the Imo State Government who never wanted him to carry our his constitutional duties as the NLC boss.
Yet, the media unit of Uzodimma revealed that Ajero had made himself the spokesperson of the opposition group in Imo. Besides, Ajero, according the information unit of the Imo State Government said the NLC president was compiling fake list of Imo workers for the purposes of blackmailing Governor Uzodimma as well as deceiving the public for him to realize his “notorious” selfish interest.
Meanwhile, a cross section of professional bodies in Imo condemned the attack on the NLC boss. For instance, in a recent press release, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Imo State Council, disassociates itself from what it called sponsored media attacks against Ajero following his assult in Owerri.
The release signed by the chairman, Comrade Precious Nwadike, in part, said: “The Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Imo State Council has observed with great dismay and severe pain the clearly orchestrated as well as ill conceived media attack hauled at the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajero by a group called, Imo Patriots’ League.
“The Imo Patriots’ League, with its convener, Onwuasonya FCC Jones, had addressed the press whereupon it opened and tailored unguided attacks on Ajero. FCC Jones and his league of anti-Ajero and their co-travellers in their despicable antics, without any recourse to the facts on ground took the NLC President to the cleaners, insulting, abusing, deriding and calling an already traumatized man all manner of unprintable names.
“The full and glaring flaws of that condemnable media fire stroke against Ajero notwithstanding, what actually embarrassed and even shocked us, the executive and members of Imo State NUJ, was the crude importation and surreptitious insertion of our hallowed professional organization into that ill-advised, miscalculated, half-baked and absolutely irrelevant press release by Ifeanyi Nwanguma who signed off as Imo NUJ chairman. All this smacks of semi-literacy or illiteracy of the satanic schemers.
“By supporting the action of the Imo State Government against its prey and victim – Joe Ajero – who has suffered untold pain and humiliation as a result of alleged State-sponsored abduction and brutalization, Ifeanyi Nwanguma has practically confirmed that he works and functions for the current state actors and of course, deficient of a good conscience. This is purely antithetical to the ordinances as well as the professionalism and intellectual soundness journalism and journalists stand for.
“For the records, the press being the Fourth Estate of the Realm presupposes that journalists are not meant to function either for or against the government or any other body for that matter. Rather, the press, with the journalists at the driver’s seat are composed to serve all for the purposes of informing, educating and entertaining the public without fear, prejudice or emotional imbalance.
“The malicious attack on Ajero by the police and thugs allegedly sponsored by state actors is really regrettable. If Ajero had, in the eyes of his ruthless attackers, contravened any established law, the best approach would have been to either take him to court or extend a police invitation to him. Ajero’s attack was an affront and infringement on his fundamental rights as a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Therefore, we totally disassociate ourselves and our noble Imo NUJ Council from the infantile press conference by Imo Patriots’ League Group by which our association was dragged through the mud. Enough of this impunity”.
As it is, between Imo State Government and NLC, who is right, who is wrong!