Organised Labour has stated that no court order was received from the federal government or any of its parties not to proceed with the strike, which started yesterday, despite the fact that the nationwide industrial action declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) is now in its second day.
Festus Osifo, the president of the TUC, criticised the government this morning on Channels Television for “perpetually violating” court decisions while expecting other institutions to follow the law.
Osifo recalled that Godwin Emefiele, the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), was detained by the secret police and held for approximately five months before being released. During this time, a court order directing his release was disregarded by the federal government and the Department of State Services (DSS).
“Yes, we do not have a court-ordered service, but the government of today consistently disobeys court orders. How many court orders were issued for Emefiele’s release while she was being held by DSS? Numerous of them,” an enraged Osifo remarked on our morning programme.
The labour leader went on to say that the unions would consult with their solicitors and make a decision after receiving a court order on the current strike.
“We have a state that disobeys court rulings. You now expect others to follow court rulings, but as responsible institutions, we will not claim that because the federal government consistently disobeys court decisions, we will investigate the matter and take appropriate action if necessary.
Osifo chastised the administration for constantly racing to court to get restraining orders to put an end to labour action rather than interacting with the unions and resolving their complaints. Getting court orders, in his opinion, is not a good example of government labour relations.
Justice Benedict Backwash Kanyip of the National Industrial Court issued a “restraining order last week,” which Labour must abide by, according to the Presidency and the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, which chastised Labour for starting the indefinite action.
In response to an attack on NLC President Joe Ajaero in Owerri, the capital of Imo State, on November 1, 2023, as he was about to lead a protest against alleged anti-labor practises by the administration of Governor Hope Uzodimma, labour unions launched a nationwide strike yesterday in an effort to seek justice.
Numerous states’ workers joined the walkout, causing some government-owned facilities to close.
State Houses of Assembly, public schools, and state high courts were shuttered, and several capital city banks closed their doors, forcing patrons to utilise ATMs to complete their transactions.
Partial compliance, however, followed the strike action in certain jurisdictions as some workers carried on with their regular business.
The Attackers of Ajaero Must Be Taken Out
Osifo called the attack on Ajaero “state-sponsored terrorism” and demanded that those responsible for the brutality against his fellow labour leader in Owerri be brought to justice.
“Ajaero is a person, yet he speaks for a company. The Federal Republic of Nigeria is the institutional home of NLC. For instance, today, it will even result in war if the president of one nation is attacked in another.
The police, a national institution, provided leadership to those who brutalised him. The federal administration has not released a single word since this occurred until yesterday (Tuesday). We believe it to be essentially incorrect,” he stated.
Comrade Joe Ajaero was brutalised under the direction of the Nigeria Police. That’s why we want those individuals to be caught. Some of the individuals that oversaw this work for the Imo State administration are actually well-known by name. It is not tough to capture the Area Commander who was in charge of this.
“The Nigerian government had nothing to say when we first started pushing for all of these, but since Tuesday, we have had some discussions. Naturally, we will let go after we make headway in those discussions and it becomes evident that they are committed to holding these individuals accountable and holding them to account.
“NSA Needs to Take Charge of the Investigation”
Following the event and just days before Imo State’s governorship election on November 11, 2023, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kayode Egbetokun redeployed Mohammed Barde, the state’s former commissioner of police at the time of the incident, and launched an investigation into the attack on the NLC leader.
The National Security Adviser (NSA) should spearhead the investigation, the TUC chief declared, adding that the unions lack faith in the IGP’s investigation.
“We believe that the Inspector General of Police is also corrupted in this specific matter, thus the office of the NSA should head this investigation—not even the IGP.
Therefore, let a team consisting of the DSS and all state agencies head this investigation. If you leave it up to the Inspector General of Police, I can assure you that nothing will come to light because he was present in the state on the day that this matter was even brought to their attention. Everybody was in Owerri. They did not act immediately since they knew exactly what had transpired, even though they were staying in the same hotel as our allies in Owerri, according to Osifo.