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Labour may send Ajaero abroad for medical treatment

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is considering flying its national president, Comrade Joe Ajaero, abroad for medical treatment following the injuries he sustained from being brutalized by thugs in Owerri, Imo State, on Wednesday.

Ajaero was reportedly beaten and blindfolded before he was arrested by police officers at the Imo council secretariat of the NLC in Owerri where he had gone to lead a protest against alleged maltreatment of workers by the state government.

He was later taken to the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) in Owerri for medical attention where his health is said to have deteriorated yesterday evening.

NLC’s head of Information and Public Affairs, Comrade Benson Upah, told LEADERSHIP in a telephone chat yesterday that talks were ongoing on the possibility of taking Ajaero outside the country for better medical care due to the nature and severity of his injuries.

“His health has not picked up and we are worried; we are concerned. Some are already suggesting that he be flown outside the country for a more comprehensive investigation and treatment, so his situation has been deteriorating”, Upah said.

The police command in Imo state had denied arresting Ajaero, claiming that he was taken into protective custody to avoid being lynched by a mob.

While NLC had accused the state government of violating workers’ rights and welfare, the Monday peaceful protest which later turned violent was to demand justice and accountability and ask the state governor, Hope Uzodimma, to honour agreements signed with the labour centre.

Meanwhile, Ajaero has said he was still receiving treatment for the brutalisation he received in Owerri on Wednesday.

Ajaero told LEADERSHIP Friday, yesterday that he was receiving treatment at a private hospital in Abuja, saying after recuperation, the union will take a stand.

He said, “As I speak, I’m receiving treatment in a private hospital in Abuja. Actually, I have been going from one hospital to the other, running tests and battling to stay stable.

“You know I was terribly manhandled by those people. But let me recover first, other details will follow”.

Also yesterday, Imo State Governor Uzodinma alleged that Ajaero had not been able to separate his role as national labour leader from his political interest in the state.

The governor disclosed this to State House correspondents on Thursday at the presidential villa after receiving the All Progressives Congress (APC) flag as its flag bearer in the Imo state governorship election scheduled for 11 November.

Governor Uzodinma denied owing any salary of workers since he mounted the saddle as governor in 2020.

He said the reverse was the case before he emerged as governor of the state.

He said, “I think it is a very good opportunity for me to clear these so-called allegations. I came to Imo State as the governor on 15 January 2020. From 2020 January till date, there is no month we did not pay salary before 30th. But the situation is that before this time, I thought that the labour union is a democratic entity that allows the opinion of people.

“I don’t pay federal civil servants. I only pay Imo state civil servants. And I challenge any Imo State civil servant to come up to say that between 5 January 2020 till date that he/she did not receive salary in any of the months.

“What has happened in this ugly coincidence is that the national president of the NLC is from Imo State and has not been able to demarcate the difference between being a national leader of an organisation and an interested party in local politics. But God would manage the situation”.

On how his administration has made a difference in terms of regular and enhanced salaries to workers in the payroll of the state government, Uzodinma narrated that apart from implementing the N30,000 minimum wage which his predecessor was unable to pay, he approved the payment of 13th month in December 2020 for the first time in the history of the state.

The governor said his landmark reforms in the civil service, apart from keeping faith with regular payment of salaries, had made the state chapter of the NLC to endorse him as the only candidate in the coming election.

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