Sat, 13 Apr 2024

 

UPDATED: Many stranded as NLC locks down Abuja airport
 
By: Abara Blessing Oluchi
Thu, 9 Nov 2023   ||   Nigeria,
 

Members of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Thursday grounded activities at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International in Abuja.

The move is part of actions by the unions following an attack on the president of the NLC Joe Ajaero in Imo State.

But what started as a state issue has now taken a national undertone as the protesting unionists stormed the venue around 8:58 a.m., grounding aviation activities in one of the country’s busiest airports.

They were at the airport to halt flights going to Owerri, the Imo State capital. While security operatives prevented them from entering the airport, the protesters blocked the airport’s entry and exit routes, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded. Many of them abandoned their vehicles and instead trekked.

The development is the latest in the faceoff between labour and the Imo State government which the unions had accused of using police officers to assault the NLC chief.

While police authorities in the state have denied involvement in the assault with with the government accusing Ajaero of meddling in politics, organised labour declared a nationwide strike for November 14th, 2023.

Critics and observers say the move would throw an ailing economy into more turmoil, but the NLC and TUC insist it would go ahead with the industrial action if the government failed to meet its demands, which included the resignation of police officials.

“We are worried that it has become criminal for workers in Nigeria to gather for a peaceful protest,” they said.

Recent strikes have had a mixed turnout. Last month the unions agreed to call off a planned strike in protest over rising living costs after the government offered a package of measures to cushion the impact of its economic reforms.

The NLC, an umbrella group of trade unions, had planned a demonstration in the Imo state capital Owerri on Wednesday over “non-payment of salaries and pensions for 44 months and violation of other labour rights,” spokesman Benson Upah told AFP.

But state police said the protest had been banned.

The unions said “police personnel” attacked Ajaero after a crackdown on the demonstration.

The union leader was taken to a police hospital and treated at the city’s Federal Medical Centre, the NLC said. It has since shared pictures showing Ajaero with a bruised face and a neck brace.

Leader of the opposition Labour Party Peter Obi condemned the attack, saying it “shows the level of lawlessness, impunity, criminality, and rascality that have engulfed our dear country”.

 

 

Tag(s):
 
 
Back to News