“Respect Court Order”, FG Tells NLC, TUC

The Nigerian federal government has issued a warning to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) regarding their proposed strike action, stating that it would be considered contempt of court.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, in a statement on Monday, said the government had obtained a restraining order from the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) barring the unions from going ahead with the strike. Fagbemi said the order was granted on November 10 by the President of the NICN, Justice B. B. Kanyip, and that the unions had been duly served with the order.
He urged the unions to respect the court order and adhere to the principle of the rule of law. “There is no need to resort to self-help,” Fagbemi said. “We urge workers to report for duties and not to entertain any fear as their safety is guaranteed and will be protected within the ambit of the law.”
The labor unions have announced an indefinite strike starting from midnight. The strike is in response to the assault and mistreatment of Joe Ajaero, the President of NLC, in Owerri, Imo State, on November 1, as well as other unresolved labor-related matters.

The presidency has also reacted to the strike action. The response came in a statement on Monday night. Bayo Onanuga, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, said the strike is not in the national interest.

The statement read:



We notice with dismay the decision by the Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress to call out workers to commence a strike action from midnight, despite a restraining order issued last week by Justice Benedict Backwash Kanyip of the National Industrial Court.
This decision by the NLC and TUC other than being an ego tripping is clearly unwarranted. It is a move to blackmail the government by the leadership of the NLC.
We are still at a loss as to the reason the NLC and TUC decided to punish a whole country of over a 200million people over a personal matter involving the NLC President, Mr. Joe Ajaero whose error of judgment led to the assault on him in Owerri while he was planning to incite the workers in Imo State into a needless strike.
While the Federal government does not condone any form of violence and assault on any citizen of Nigeria regardless of social and economic status, it is on record that the Inspector General of Police has ordered investigation into what happened to Mr. Ajaero while the Commissioner of Police in Imo State under whose watch the incident happened has been transferred out of the state.
Calling out workers on a national strike over a personal issue of a labour leader despite a clear court order against any industrial action amounts to an abuse of privilege. Power at any level should never be used to settle personal scores. Rather it should be used to promote collective progress and advance national interest.
Our national economy and social activities should not suffer because of the personal interest of any labour leader.
This flagrant disobedience to court order and lack of respect to the judiciary should not be what the organised Labour should champion.  The labour movement has always been a champion of rule of law and respect for the judiciary. It is a sad irony that the current labour leaders have shown disdain and utter disregard for court order.
We reiterate that this strike action is illegal, immoral, unjustifiable and irresponsible. With the strike notice issued Monday night after official hours suggests it was designed for a sinister and hidden agenda to cause undue hardship and cause civil disturbance in our country.

Bayo Onanuga
Special Adviser to the President on Information & Strategy

November 13, 2023


Ada Peter

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