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Imo Airport Closure: NLC tackles Air Peace boss, Onyema over ₦700m loss claim 

…issues 2weeks ultimatum for unionisation of airline staff, remittance of checkoff dues


The face off between organised labour and the Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodinma, on Friday assumed another dimension, as the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has expressed its disappointment over the utterances made by the CEO of Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema.

A statement signed by NLC’s Head of Information and Public Affairs, Comrade Benson Upah, accused Onyema of putting his personal business interest above the lives, welfare, safety, freedom and  businesses of the people of Imo state.

The statement reads: “We had thought Mr Onyema was a reasonable  citizen but like the rest of them, he has shown his hand rather too early. His desperate attempt to personalise the strike action by over 70 unions and present Comrade Joe Ajaero as scuttling the business interest  of a fellow Igbo is a familiar refrain of scoundrels who take refuge in primordial sentiments.

“We find it  disgusting that rather than address the fundamental issues that led to this avoidable strike action, Mr  Onyema has  called for sanctioning of Comrade Ajaero and manacling of the Labour Unions but such is the psyche of those who come upon wealth suddenly or have wealth thrust upon them.

“If the ordinary Nigerian has knowledge of the rights of citizens to peaceful protest as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution as amended, corpus of Labour Laws, and  African Charter on Fundamental Rights, Mr Onyema, a Lawyer is presumed to be even  more knowledgeable about the operation of these laws/rights.

“How ever, it inevitably puts a  question mark on his claims to  his credentials if he is bereft of this basic knowledge of  the law.”

Highlighting the social injustice and an alleged disregard for labours demands, Congress has issued a two weeks ultimatum to air peace to allow unionisation of its staff, and offset its checkoff dues from 2016 till date.

“The same law allows for unionisation of the staff of  Air Peace Airline which have been denied this basic right by Onyema from 2016 to date.  In light of this, Mr Onyema is given two weeks to allow the staff of Air Peace to unionise. He should equally calculate and remit check-off  dues from 2016 to date.  If he fails to do this, he should be prepared to  keep a date with the entire labour movement soon.

“The society Onyema canvasses is that of unquestioning submission to illegal acts, impunity, crime, and bestiality. While this might be helpful to him in the pursuit of his wealth, we find it  sordid,  immoral and  dishonourable. We assure him such society has no place in our democracy as we continue to hold leaders to account for their conduct.

“Mr Onyema says he lost N700 million Naira in two hours of the strike action. That is a lot of money by any  standards as that means he makes N5 billion a day and N150 billion a month on the average. We would want to know how much tax he pays. The last time he made tax returns was in 2020. Ordinarily, what he paid should be in the public domain but it is not. We therefore invite the tax authorities to avail us and the general public the tax returns of Air Peace. We also ask them to note the earnings of Air Peace as proclaimed by its owner.

“It was so convenient for Onyema to be  hysterical about his financial  lossess that he forgot to mention the  violence his goons visited on workers including the Lagos State Council Chairperson, Comrade Agnes Sesse who sustained an eye injury after Onyema’s goons smacked her face breaking her glasses.

“Onyema also forgot to mention the deceit in their flight operations. For instance, after claiming a flight was bound for Port Harcourt, it actually went to Owerri. There were other instances like that which made total enforcement inevitable.

“Since Allen Onyema has decided to pitch his tent with  Governor  Hope Uzodinma in oppressing, intimidating,  exploiting, violating and visiting mindless violence on workers, we wish him well. But we advise he be called to order.”

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