Aviation unions across the country have jointly declared the suspension of all flights to Owerri, Imo State, from every airport in Nigeria effective from Wednesday.
This decision follows the recent unfortunate incident where the President of the NLC, Joe Ajaero, was subjected to brutalisation in Owerri.
The collaborative effort of aviation unions, namely the National Union of Air Transport Employees, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals, and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, was communicated through a joint statement released by their respective General-Secretaries.
Comrades Ocheme Aba (NUATE), Frances Akinjole (ATSSSAN), Abdul Rasaq Saidu (ANAP), and Umoh Ofonime (NAAPE) vehemently condemned the incident and expressed unwavering solidarity with the Nigerian Labour Union, comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress.
The unions declared Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State persona non grata in all airports, sending a strong message against the actions that led to the assault on the NLC President.
The statement read: “Following the escalation of the imbroglio created by the mayhem unleashed on workers by the Imo State Government of Hope Uzodimma and the continued insensitivity of the Government over the matter; and in compliance with the directive of the joint NEC session of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria , the above-named unions, being affiliates of NLC and TUC, hereby direct all aviation workers (both public and private) to withdraw all services to all Owerri flights (inwards and outwards) from any airport in Nigeria with effect from midnight of 08/11/2023 (today).
“In addition, the person of Hope Uzodimma, the Governor of Imo State is hereby declared persona non grata at all airports in Nigeria until he purges himself of bestial tendencies.
“Our unions will make further efforts through our international affiliations to blacklist Hope Uzodimma worldwide.
“Furthermore, all aviation workers in Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, Owerri are hereby directed to stay at home, also with effect from midnight today (08/11/2023) as directed by NLC and TUC.
“Based on the above, the State Councils and all Branches of the unions will meet today at 5 pm in Lagos and Abuja to agree on modalities for carrying out the above directive. The meeting in Lagos will be held at NUATE Secretariat, while that of Abuja will be at GAT (pilgrims’ terminal).
“By this notice, the airports’ managements, airlines operating into and out of Owerri, intending airport passengers into and out of Owerri, and the general public are hereby advised about this situation to be forewarned.”
Also, the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria has said it will be shutting the ports on Tuesday to show solidarity to the planned withdrawal of services by the Nigeria Labour Congress.
This was disclosed in a statement on Wednesday by the Head of Media, MWUN, John Ikemefuna.
Ikemefuna said that the decision came after a joint meeting held by the National Executive Council meeting of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress on Tuesday, directing its affiliate unions to embark on the immediate withdrawal of services and to shut down Imo State by all public and private sectors workers indefinitely.
The General Secretary Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Frances Akinjole told The PUNCH that the meeting held today at 5 pm was strategic.
“Major decisions have been made and the meeting has concluded. The meeting was specifically focused on operational matters.
One of the key decisions reached is the suspension of flights to Owerri, effective from Thursday. This suspension pertains not only to flights from the airport in Lagos but also to any other routes.
When asked about the possibility of Governor Uzodinma resolving the matter, the response was clear. “If he can work any magic between now and 12 am, perhaps there might be a change. However, at this moment, everyone involved has been briefed strategically, and our decision stands.”