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NLC Protest:  Falana writes AGF, seeks protection for NLC protesters

The Attorney General of the Federation, Lateef Fagbemi, has been called upon to provide security for demonstrators, amid the planned protest by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) over the hardship faced by Nigerians.

 

Human rights advocate, Femi Falana, (SAN), in a letter dated February 24 and addressed to the Attorney General of the Federation, said Section 83(4) of the Police Establishment Act empowers the Minister of Justice to provide security cover for the protesters.

Falana also called on the organised labour to conduct their scheduled rallies peacefully void of violence.

The letter partly reads, “While we have advised the members of the NLC to conduct the rallies scheduled for February 27-28, 2024 in a peaceful manner, we urge you to use your good offices to direct the Inspector-General of Police to provide adequate security to the conveners and participants in the protest in line with the provisions of Section 83(4) of the Police Establishment Act.

“Finally, while awaiting your favourable reply to this letter, please accept, as usual, the assurance of our highest esteem.”

Recall, the NLC will tomorrow Tuesday, February 27 and Wednesday, February 28 protest following the spike in the prices of goods and services due to the removal of fuel subsidy and the free fall of the naira.

Recall that in a letter dated February 23, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) had called on the counsel to the NLC, Femi Falana (SAN), to enjoin his clients to refrain from self-help by shelving the proposed nationwide protest.

Fagbemi had argued that the proposed protests was antithetical to the mediatory engagements leading to the execution of the MoU, tantamount to undermining subsisting restraining court order, and occasioning disruption of public service, order and safety.

The NLC leadership had accused the federal government of refusing to implement the MoU which touched on workers’ welfare among other agreements.

According to the AGF in his letter, the planned protest was premised on or connected with alleged non implementation of the 16-point agreement reached with the Federal Government in October last year, and that, it was targeted at promoting issues connected with hike in fuel price and consequential matters of palliatives, workers welfare, and associated government policies.

Fagbemi reminded Falana in his letter titled, “Re: Memorandum of Understanding reached between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) as a result of dispute arising from withdrawal of subsidy on the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) on Monday, the 2nd of October 2023”, of a pending case before the National Industrial Court regarding the development.

“Upon the submission of grievances to the court, parties in the suit cannot resort to public protests over the same issues, as such conduct amounts to gross contempt and affront to the institution of our courts of law.

“Therefore, the proposed nationwide protest in all ramifications is in clear violation of the pending interim injunctive order granted in Suit No: NICN/ABJ/158/2023 – Federal Government of Nigeria & Anor V. Nigerian Labour Congress & Anor on 5th June 2023 restraining both NLC and TUC from embarking on any industrial action or strike of any nature.

“It is not in doubt that the planned protest is designed to compel government to accede to the demands of organized labour, therefore, such action qualifies as an industrial action which comes within the ambit of the restraining order,” Fagbemi added and explained that the restraining order has neither been stayed nor set-aside, and therefore remains binding on all parties including Nigerian workers.

The letter reads, “I wish to note that government has substantially and reasonably complied with the items in the MoU, and it is only appropriate and equitable for organized labour to engage more with government to ensure the full implementation of same, especially in areas that have been inhibited by unforeseen challenges.

“May I therefore request that you kindly implore and enjoin your clients to refrain from self-help by shelving the proposed protests which is antithetical to the mediatory engagements leading to the execution of the MoU, tantamount to undermining subsisting restraining court order, and occasioning disruption of public service, order and safety,” the letter added.

 

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