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An Explainer: FG sues NLC, TUC

Labour leaders led a protest, which resonated across multiple states, on Wednesday. August 2, 2023.

Nigeria witnessed a significant development on August 2, as the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajaero, alongside his counterpart from the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Festus Osifo, spearheaded a nationwide protest.

This was after an order from the National Industrial Court in Abuja, restrained the labour union from embarking on any strike action over issues bordering on removal of fuel subsidy, pending the determination of a suit filed by the federal government.

However, the protest which they said was a response to what they deemed “anti-people” policies under the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, gained momentum as it resonated across multiple states, including Lagos, Kano, Zamfara, Katsina, Kwara and Ondo.

In the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, the demonstration began from the Unity Fountain, with hundreds participating and eventually ‘occupied’ the national assembly complex as the ministerial screening was on-going.

Contempt of court

The Federal Government, Wednesday evening, took legal action against the NLC and TUC, filing a “notice of consequences of disobedience to order of court,” commonly referred to as “Form 48.” This legal move, filed in the National Industrial Court in Abuja, was due to the industrial action.

While Femi Falana, a prominent human rights lawyer, staunchly defended the union’s position, contending that the strike action should not be construed as contempt of court, he asserted that peaceful protests fell squarely within their fundamental rights.

On the other hand, Beatrice Jedy-Agba, the solicitor-general of the federation, adopted a contrasting stance. She argued that both the impending strike and the associated protests could not be classified as peaceful, asserting that their purpose was to disrupt the functioning of the government and to sow fear among the general populace.

She said the subject matter which is the major cause of the action is subjudice and parties in the suit are expected to maintain the status quo until the hearing and determination of the suit.

Suspended Strike Action

President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday had a closed-door meeting with leaders of labour unions at the State House in Abuja.

Subsequently, the protests were suspended.

On Monday, the President addressed the nation, enumerating his plans for economic revamp but the NLC insisted it was not the silver bullet Nigerians wanted.

Writing by Adeniyi Bakare; Editing by Saadatu Albashir