HURIWA to Police: Release NLC President Now

HURIWA to Police: Release NLC President Now

… Said EFCC’S arrest of 70 University undergraduates from their hostels, is ‘absolute insanity’,

“The Nigeria police has degenerated to the lowest level as we write. The newly confirmed inspector General of police Kayode Egbetokun has become a tool in the hands of the Imo State governor, Mr. Hope Uzodinma, so much so that the police opted to hold a so-called seminar for officers in Imo State in which the incumbent governor is fighting tooth and nail to win re-election by all conceivable and inconceivable means.”

“The IGP has even gone as far as using the photo of the Imo State governor alongside his own and that of President Tinubu and made it the official banner hoisted in front of the force headquarters in Abuja. How do we know if the police is not already compromised to manipulate the November 11th 2023 poll in Imo State even when both the Chief of Defence Staff and NSA Nuhu Ribadu made heavy weather of the so-called resolve of government to organise free, fair and transparent election in Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi States?”.

“The irrational, unconstitutional and illegal arrest of the NLC President Mr. Joe Ajaero by the police in his line of legal duty as the President of the NLC, is a confirmation that the police indeed have become a willing political tool to be used to oppress workers and civil rights activists. The same police, arbitrarily arrested a journalist in a way that most eye witnesses who saw the arrest by plain clothed and hooded men, presumed that they were unknown gunmen or kidnappers and this incident in Owerri, Imo State, took place near the Assumpta catholic cathedral but the journalist was flown to Abuja. It is time to call this misbehaving police to order because Nigeria is not a dictatorship.”

With the above summations, prominent civil society group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA), has called on the IGP Mr. Egbetokun to immediately release the NLC President Mr. Joe Ajaero and sanction the Imo State police commissioner for this outrageous betrayal of constitutionalism and egregious affront to Human Rights. The arrest of the NLC President is the height of irresponsibility on the part of the police commissioner who wants to turn Imo State into a ‘TERROR TERRITORY’, whereby opposition activists are not allowed to operate.

This tyranny must end or the police will soon realise that they are actually planting the seed of a revolution that will sweep across the length and breath of Africa’s biggest democracy. He who makes peaceful change impossible, has created room for inevitable violent change. Let the police be very cautious and not degenerate into fascism because this will be resisted since we are FREE BORN CITIZENS OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA.”

HURIWA recalled that information filtered in that the mo State Police Command operatives arrested the President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero.

Reports said that Ajaero was whisked away by the Police from the venue of the ongoing protest in Imo state.

According to report, the development took place as hoodlums descended on protesters, smashing vehicles and inflicting wounds on labour members.

At the time of filing this report, the whereabouts of the NLC President were unknown as heavily armed security operatives took him away.

Ajaero had earlier directed all members of the Union and affiliate unions to shut down all sectors in Imo State, including air, land, and sea, as the union commenced protest today.

Reports said that Ajaero announced the commencement of the protest at the end of the Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting held in the late hours of Tuesday, October 31, 2023, in Owerri, the state capital.

The NLC president had accused the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, of violating and neglecting workers’ welfare.

He alleged that due to the hostile actions of the governor towards workers in the state, many of them had died because of the lack of payment of their salaries.

Speaking further, Ajaero lamented the non-compliance with the national minimum wage by the state government while accusing Uzodimma of refusing to implement previous agreements, especially the accord reached on January 9, 2021.

Besides, HURIWA has described as ‘irresponsible, and unmitigated insanity, the reported mass arrests of over 70 students of Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife Osun State who were reportedly arrested by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in a midnight raid on hostels outside the campus.

Multiple sources in Ile-Ife confirmed to our correspondent on Wednesday morning that the officials, around 2 a.m., stormed the Fine Touch and Superb hostels in Oduduwa Estate, Ile-Ife, broke into rooms, and arrested the students.

Reasons for the arrest have not been confirmed as of press time, but the Students’ Union President, Abass Ojo, said the union had details of “72 students picked up from the hostel with phones and cars taken away.”

A former union official, Joy Abiola, told our correspondent that the students were beaten.

“The EFCC officials came between 1:40 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. Only students stay in those hostels,” Joy said, adding, “How can you arrest people for owning iPhones, laptops, and cars?”

Another student, identified simply as Ewatee, said, “Female students were among those picked up. Even some fresh students who just went to greet their senior colleagues were arrested. The approach is wrong.”

In a video shared with our correspondent, taken by one of the students, several young persons said to be students of the hostel were seen being marched into a white Hummer Bus with some security officials hitting them and ordering them to move and enter quickly.

In another video, about six vehicles were seen alongside the white Hummer Bus on the move. Students said the officials were leaving the Ile-Ife area and heading to Ibadan.

Contacted, the head of Public Affairs Department of the EFCC, Ibadan Zonal Command, Olumide Egbodofo, said an update would be given on the incident.

“A press statement will be released regarding that soon,” the spokesperson added.

Also, the phone line of the university’s spokesperson, Abiodun Olarewaju, was unreachable as of press time.

HURIWA however condemned this arrest as an attempt by EFCC to the World that Nigerian Universities are crooks and fraudsters. This stereotype being brandished about our youths by the EFCC is absolutely insane and inaccurate. Why has the EDCC not arrested the over 500 law makers from the National Assembly who diverted over N100 billion to buy themselves N16 million worth of JEEP each which amounts to advanced fees fraud by legislators?

Press statement dated on 1st November 2023

Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko


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