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General News of Thursday, 16 November 2023


‘You cannot arrest democracy' - Oshiomhole faults timing of NLC’s Imo protest

Adams Oshiomhole Adams Oshiomhole

Senator Adams Oshiomhole of Edo North spoke out on Wednesday against a protest by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Imo State two weeks ago, led by its president, Joe Ajaero, which kicked off a series of events that culminated in an ongoing nationwide strike by organised labour.

The former NLC president, who appeared on Channels Television’s Politics Today, called Ajaero’s supposed involvement in the election of the NLC chairman in the south-eastern state, in the lead-up to last Saturday’s highly anticipated governorship election.

Ajaero was arrested on November 1, in the middle of a protest and strike action by the NLC in the state and released hours later with visible bruises, prompting allegations of torture against the Imo State Police Command.

Oshiomhole noted that as a result, the NLC president banned flights out of the state.

“He ordered… no transport out of Imo [and that] Imo must be grounded. And not a few people wondered about the timing,” the senator said.

“If you don’t want the governor, the more reason you should allow the people to go and vote — and vote him out — if your opinion is shared by a majority of the people. But you cannot arrest democracy.”

Oshimohole pointed out that the incumbent NLC president is from Imo State “and this is the second time they are having a showdown with the governor — and the issues are never really clear”.

According to him, the first instance was over a dispute about the workers’ preference in the election of the chairman of the NLC in Imo State Council.

“The one that was allegedly favoured by many people, the president of the NLC coming from Imo didn’t like the person,” Oshiomhole argued.

“They did their election; it was nullified and a caretaker was appointed and some of the workers felt that the man appointed was the person favoured by the president.”

In the senator’s view, the NLC president must be seen to be above board and must not “drag himself into the little issues,” particularly when they are dealing with their own state.

“Now, those issues about who is the chairman, who is not the chairman, led to a declaration of strike and the mother union of the NLC president is the NUEE which controls the power supply and they put off the power in Imo State,” Oshiomhole narrated.

“This latest one, about nine or 10 days to the last election: Again, the NLC president went to Imo State over allegations of all sorts of things, but they are never specific. No wages, etc. and at the end of the day, we saw pictures that he was arrested.”