By Abiodun OBA
The statement credited to the Imo State Police Command where the force distanced itself from the arrest of the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Joe Ajaero is said to be full of loopholes.
Human Rights activist, Femi Falana, SAN, noted in a statement over the brutalization of the NLC President that the police version of the event was full of loopholes.
Recall that the police had through the state Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Henry Okoye, said: “The Imo State Police Command wishes to clarify some sketchy reports alleging the arrest of the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Joe Ajaero, in Owerri.
“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 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.”
“It is however necessary to emphasize the existence of a court injunction from the National Industrial Court of Nigeria held in Owerri with Suit No. NICN/OW/41/2023 dated 27th October 2023, barring the NLC from holding the intended protest rally in Owerri.
“The Commissioner of Police, Imo State Police Command, CP Mohammed Ahmed Barde, psc (+), therefore, urges all concerned parties to ensure compliance with the Court directives to avoid jeopardizing the current security arrangements in Owerri and other parts of Imo State, even as the State gears up for the forthcoming electioneering process on 11th November 2023.”
However, reacting to the above position, Falana said: “The police version of the brutalisation of the NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajero is full of loopholes.
“As soon as Comrade Ajero showed up at the venue of the rally, he was surrounded by a team of police personnel led by the Commissioner of Police of Imo State.
“Why did the police allow Comrade Ajero to be brutalised by the so-called miscreants? In other words, why did the police not protect him from the violent attack?
“By the way, why did the police officers not arrest the miscreants who brutalised the NLC President in their presence?
“So the police who witnessed the attack without making any arrest suddenly turned round to take the victim to the police clinic. The members of the public who decried the barbaric attack took pictures which exposed the misleading version of the police.
“It is disturbing that the police justified the action of the so-called miscreants by saying that Comrade Ajero has disobeyed the order of a court. Why did the police not allow the court to purge Comrade Ajero of contempt of court?
“We call on the Inspector-General of Police, Dr Kayode Egbetokun, to investigate and ensure that the police officers who brutalised the NLC President are prosecuted without any delay”.