Court stops NLC, TUC from embarking on Nov 14 strike

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The National Industrial Court (NIC) has restrained the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) as well as their affiliates from embarking on any form of strike or industrial action.


The two major labour unions were on Friday evening ordered to stop their nationwide strke action scheduled to commence on November 14, 2023.


President of the Court, Justice Benedict Bakwaph Kanyip issued the restraining order following an ex-parte application to that effect brought before the Court by the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice.

Justice Kanyip invoked Sections 17 and 19 of the National Industrial Court Act to issue the restraining order against the labour unions.


The Federal Government and the AGF through their lawyer, Tijani Gazali (SAN) had, in the ex-parte application prayed the court to stop the planned strike action so as to stop untold hardship that would be inflicted on innocent law abiding citizens and their businesses.


Gazali, who is the Director of Civil Appeals in the Federal Ministry of Justice while arguing the ex-parte application, drew the attention of Justice Kanyip to series of hardships suffered by Nigerians on Thursday alone when the labour unions blocked entrances to the main airports in the country.


He pleaded that, unless the planned strike action is stopped, there may be likelihood of breach of peace and tranquility in the country.

The judge, who was persuaded by the Federal Government’s arguments, in a short ruling said, it is within the power of the court to intervene by way of a restraining order to ensure peace and tranquility.


He proceeded to grant all the requests of the Federal Government as contained in the motion paper.


Besides, Justice Kanyip directed that the restraining order be pasted on the wall of the Labour House, being the last known address of the two defendants to draw their attention to the court’s position.


The judge also directed that the order, along with the originating and other processes be served on the defendants by publication in two major national dailies.


Meanwhile, the case file has been transferred to Justice Olufunke Yemi Anuwe who was said to be handling similar labour dispute related matters between the two parties.


Justice Anuwe, the President of the Court said, would issue a hearing notice to the parties at the appropriate time.


Meanwhile, the NLC and the TUC on Friday declared that they would commence a nationwide industrial action starting from midnight of Tuesday, 14 November, 2023 in protest against the brutal attack on Comrade Joe Ajaero in Imo State.


Members of all the affiliate unions of the two labour centres across the nation will withdraw their service until a contrary directive is given to them.

NLC General Secretary, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja, reiterated this in Abuja at a press conference where the Congress president, Joe Ajaero, addressed the press on his ordeal in the hands of his adductors in Owerri.


“We will not accept the torture, humiliation, brutalization of a citizen, a citizen that has global stature. There have been calls from all over the world to clarify what transpired and the state of Joe Ajaero. So, if people from across the world are calling, and your own country is not speaking, it means that there is something they know that we do not know.


“So, from Tuesday, the Nigerian workers under NLC and TUC will be withdrawing their services. President of NLC and his team were used as the point of contact, hundreds of workers were actually brutalized. Their phones, money and wallets taken. He is just the figurehead of what transpired. And as we speak nothing has been done. So, we cannot continue like this as a nation.”


Ajaero explained that the labour action in Owerri had already been planned as part of the congress’s action-plan to protest in some states where workers’ rights were being trampled upon as NLC’s national headquarters did in PortHarcour, Rivers State and Kaduna, Kaduna State in defence of their members in the recent past.


In reaction to a question on the timing of the protest, he said NLC wisely decided to take action now than wait for a new government to emerge in Imo. “People would have still asked what we were waiting for all the years if we had waited for a new government to emerge in Imo State. Our mission in Imo was purely for the interest of workers. How can a state governor not have money to pay workers but has enough to settle certain elders of the state monthly?”


Furthermore, he narrated: “We heard that the workers who had arrived at the protest venue as early as 7am were beaten and chased away. So, I arrived there by 9am with about 20 security personnel and was about to address journalists on the situation of things when the police and other people in mufti came in and withdrew all the security there. They arrested me and handed me over to thugs who dragged me on the ground, hit me with all manners of things and blind folded me.


“They started asking me why I was challenging Governor Hope Uzodinma and that I should say my last prayers that they were going to throw me into Njaba River. They said I am playing local politics. But I do not know which one is local politics. I am not a card carrying member of any political party in Nigeria. And as a governor he should be privileged to some classified information to say which political party I belong. But I thank God that I am a alive today. Whoever that has diverted the workers money, has diverted blood money and has attracted a generational curse.


“For those who said I was in Imo to aid election of my family members, I am not sure that any body from my village is contesting for even counselorship election, not to talk of me family. Anybody that is supporting the non-payment of workers salaries, him and his family, if they work, they will not it. That is the mission. It is a devine mission.


“I do not have any family members or whatever running for election but they are free to run if they are interested. If I want to run for any office tomorrow I will pick the form of any party. There is no law that forbids a civil servant from contesting elections. The appeal court has also made it clear that you do. It need permission for a protest or rally. You only inform the security.


“There were some media organizations that their staff were humiliated on that day. Two TVC staff were handcuffed. Were they also playing politics? And the TVC has kept criminal silence about it. Why has the NUJ not said a word about the humiliation of journalists? Not even my death could have stopped the struggle for the payment of those workers. If I had died in the process, the people that would take over, would be more daring.


“Any of the deputies here that would take over, would have been more decisive. So no body is backing out, it is a question of allowing justice to prevail and the people you are owing you pay them.”



Lawal AbdulSalam Olawale

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