Labour Condemns Okorocha over Owerri Market Deaths, Demands Resignation

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ABUJA – The United Labour Congress (ULC) has condemned the violence that erupted in Owerri, the Imo State capital on Saturday in the aftermath of demolition of the popular Ekeukwu Market on the orders of the state Governor, Rochas Okorocha leading to the death of several people.

Comrade Joe Ajaero, President of the Congress in a statement issued on Saturday, described the killing of innocent citizens by agents of the state as barbaric, unconscionable and out of sync with the dictates of modern societies that thrive on strict adherence to the rule of law and natural justice.

Ajaero explained that many lives had been lost at the time the statement was issued while scores were lying in hospital seriously injured and many more lost properties running into billions of naira.

“This once again is a national eyesore that leaves a deep gash on our collective conscience as a people and as a country.

“Our members in Imo having followed this matter through and investigations from the headquarters of the ULC suggest that this matter is understandably in the court pending adjudication and Okorocha has rather chosen to circumvent this lawful process which the citizenry have subjected (sic) themselves.

“We are deeply worried that a State Government will allow itself to be dragged down this lane of infamy to unleash mayhem on its own people despite being illegal and amoral. We have unfortunately seen an increasing lawlessness and impunity not perpetrated by criminals in the society but by those who wield the instrument of power scattered all over the nation.

“Every day when we wake up in Nigeria, we are regaled with one sad tale or another of the dubious use of the military to destroy the lives of Nigerians by those who are in position of authority despite the fact that the military are needed elsewhere in the North East to defeat the Boko Haram insurgents and in other parts of the country to curb the murderous Fulani herdsmen uprisings and others.

“We are aghast at the continued militarisation of governance processes and the deployment of high-handed and violence methods in attempting to settle disputes arising out of government decisions that the people consider wrong-headed or ill-advised.

“Any governor that cannot patiently subject himself to the dictates of the law loses the right to continue in office. He becomes a threat to democracy and democratic practices as he places himself above the law through which he in the first place assumed office.

“Through such actions, the affected public official undermines the basis of his government and destroying the foundation of his office, making it inchoate with the strictures of the law thus creating a situation where he is no longer worthy of that office.

“ULC does not see any reason no matter how well thought-out for Okorocha to embark on self-help and lawlessness in a matter that is before the court. He has not only shown disdain for the courts but has also shown deep contempt for the people of the state and indeed the whole Nigeria. He is following a trend that we are scared stiff about in Nigeria.

“The emergence of small despotic gods in our hallowed halls of governance who have decided on their own to play with the lives of their citizenry without recourse to the rights and privileges of the people and to good conscience. A people in power who believe that they are above all and everything are a danger to democracy and social stability.”

Ajaero called for the immediate resignation of Governor Okorocha on the basis of what it described as “this perfidy and the threat he has become not only to his own people but also to Nigerians knowing fully that if he continues contributing to the destruction of our nation, Nigerian workers who we represent will be the first casualties. He has made his continued occupation of that exalted office tenuous and horrendous.”

He said it is wrong for the military to once again allow itself to be used by “wicked and self-seeking politicians to mow down innocent lives that they were constitutionally sworn to protect and who are their employers and pay their salaries no matter what the situation is. It is also wrong for the Governor to have to bring in the military into a civil matter that does not in any way require the use of extreme force as the case has clearly demonstrated. Institutions of state can only maintain their integrity when they subject themselves to the rules setting them up. It is this integrity that guarantees their sustainability which can only obtained by continuously being allied with the people. When the military authorities therefore decide to be used, they not only whittle down the effectiveness of that institution they also undermine its capability and capacity to continue playing its role as the ultimate defender of the citizenry.”

ULC also demanded the immediate investigation of the circumstances under which the killings and maiming of innocent life was carried out in a peaceful time. “We demand that the officers involved in this act be prosecuted by the courts and if found culpable incarcerated. This action has totally undermined the office of the GOC commanding the 36th military Battalion at Obinze whose officers may have constantly been used against the people. We therefore call for his immediate removal and prosecution.” (News Express)

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