NLC threatens nationwide strike if FG does not withdraw contempt charge

The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has threatened to embark on a nationwide indefinite strike from August 14, if, at the close of work on Friday, August 11, the contempt charge against filed the Federal Government was not withdrawn.

Credible News recalls that the Federal Ministry of Justice had gone to court on Wednesday to file a contempt charge against labour, and the NLC and Trade Union Congress, TUC for embarking on strike.

At its National Executive Council, NEC, meeting to review Wednesday’s nationwide protest, NLC demanded immediate withdrawal of the contempt charge.

A communiqué issued at the end of the meeting said NLC leaders also gave reasons for suspending the nationwide protest, noting that National Executive Council, NEC, members deliberated exhaustively on the mood of the nation, amid the suffering and deprivation across all the states of the federation.

It noted that NEC also reviewed the effectiveness of the nationwide protest, particularly the meetings with President Bola Tinubu, the leadership of the National Assembly and the contempt charge action of the Federal Government through the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, NICN.

The communiqué, signed by NLC President and General Secretary, Joe Ajaero and Emma Ugboaja, respectively noted that Nigerians spoke loudly across Nigeria on Wednesday to express their outrage over the huge suffering and impoverishment pervading the landscape, while the President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, responded through a closed-door meeting with the leaders of the Congress and TUC.

It added that concrete agreements were reached and the President personally guaranteed action on the following areas: Commitment to an immediate restructuring of the framework for engaging the consequences of the PMS price hike, in line with the input of the labour leaders

The assurance that the Port Harcourt Refinery will commence production by December this year; the pledge to ensure that agreement is reached on the wage award for Nigerian workers immediately; and the promise to unveil a workable roadmap to the CNG alternative next week, the communiqué said.

The Federal Ministry of Justice, through the NICN, has continued to allow itself to be used as a vehicle to truncate the dominance of the tenets of democracy and muzzle/silence the voices of Nigerian workers and, has served a summons on the leadership of the NLC and TUC to answer to contempt of court charges, despite the provisions of the constitution to the contrary and the objective realities, it added.

The communiqué further stated that the NEC-in-Session resolved as follows: “To support and affirm the decision to suspend further protest on the nationwide mass protest

“To commit to maintaining the required vigilance needed to hold government accountable on its assurances and governance in general

“To commit to the terminal date of August 19, 2023, within which the issues around the petroleum price hike will be agreed, given the assurances of the President and the National Assembly.

“To go on total strike across the country any day labour leaders are summoned to court by the government through the NICN.

“To demand the immediate withdrawal of this litigious terrorism by the Federal Ministry of Justice before the end of work on Friday, August 11, 2023.

“To embark on a nationwide comprehensive strike beginning Monday, August 14, 2023, if these contemptuous court summons are not withdrawn by whosoever initiated it”.

While commending the national leadership and all the state officers for the effective coordination of the protest, it urged all affiliates and state councils, including our civil society allies, to stay further action but remain focused and eternally vigilant.

Credible News recalls that the Federal Government had Wednesday, filed a contempt proceeding against the NLC, and the TUC for allegedly embarking on an industrial action, contrary to a June 5, 2023, exparte order by the National Industrial Court, NIC.

The “notice of consequences of disobedience to order of court” filed before NIC in Abuja, was addressed to NLC President, Joe Ajaero; Deputy Presidents, Audu Aruba, Prince Adeyanju Adewale and Kabiru Sani; General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja; TUC President, Engr Festus Usifo; and Secretary General, Nuhu Toro.

The contempt notice, signed by Senior Registrar, Balogun Olajide, read: “Take notice that unless you obey the directions contained in the order of the National Industrial Court, Abuja, delivered by Honourable Justice Y. Anuwe on June 5, 2023, as per the attached enrolled order, you will be guilty of contempt of court and will be liable to be committed to prison”.

The Federal Government also attached a copy of the exparte order made by Justice Anuwe on June 5, 2023, to the notice of contempt proceeding forwarded to the NLC and TUC officials.

Having, therefore, considered the totality of this application, I make the following orders: The defendants/Respondents are, hereby, restrained from embarking on the planned industrial action/or strike of any nature, pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice dated June 5, 2023, the order stated.

It ordered that the defendant/Respondents be immediately served with the originating processes in this suit, the Motion on Notice and the order of this court hereby made.

The Motion on Notice is hereby fixed for hearing on June 19, 2023. The Hearing Notices to that effect shall be served on the defendants/Respondent along with the other processes, it added.

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