NLC’s Head of Media and Publicity Benson Upah said this in a statement, confirming the release of the Mr Ajaero.
He said, “Contact was made with Congress President, Comrade Joe Ajaero this evening around 1530 hours at the Police Hospital in Owerri from where he was taken to Federal Medical Centre, Owerri where he is receiving medical attention.”
The police had said Mr. Ajeoro was taken into custody for his protection, but the NLC said he was brutalized after his arrest.
“Thoroughly brutalized, his (Ajeoro’s) right eye at the time of contact was completely shut,” Mr Ujah said.
“Ajaero who said little stated that immediately after his arrest, he was beaten up and blindfolded and taken to an unknown destination where more brutalization took place, sometimes with bottles.”
Mr Ajaero’s phones, money, and other personal effects were taken from him and have not been returned to him, according to Mr Ujah.
He was picked up by the police at the NLC secretariat in Owerri, the Imo State capital, on Wednesday.
Mr. Ajaero was in the state for the NLC’s statewide protest and strike over what the union described as a lack of respect for workers, unpaid salaries and pensions, and other issues.
As news of the development spread with the NLC accusing the Police of abducting its leader, the Imo State Police Command issued a statement, explaining that Mr Ajaero was picked up for his safety.
A statement by the spokesperson of the Command, ASP Okoye Henry, read in part, “It is pertinent to state that the NLC President was in Owerri as part of arrangements of the Congress to mobilize 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 and 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.
“The Commissioner of Police thereafter directed that he should be taken to the Police Medical Services, Owerri, where he would be accorded medical attention as a result of the attack. He has therefore been accorded adequate security cover to proceed on his other legitimate engagements for the day.”
The police spokesperson also explained that a National Industrial Court injunction dated October 27, 2023, barred the NLC from holding the planned rally.
Its position is, however, in conflict with that of the NLC which believes, Mr Ajaero was brutalized after his arrest and not before.
Credit: Channel TV