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Nationwide Strike: We’ll Enforce The Law, Police Warn NLC, TUC

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Ahead of the planned strike action and protest by the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress from Monday over the recent hike in electricity tariff and fuel price, the Nigeria Police Force has said it will enforce the law on the matter.

Despite two court injunctions restraining the unions and their affiliates from proceeding with the strike, the labour unions told newsmen on Friday that they would go ahead with the strike and protest from Monday as they had yet to be served the court orders. The labour unions had said they would only shelve the planned strike if the Federal Government reversed the recent hikes.

The National Industrial Court in Abuja had on Thursday granted an order of interim injunction restraining the unions from disrupting, restraining, picketing or preventing the workers or ordinary Nigerians from accessing their offices to carry out their legitimate duties on September 28, 2020, or any other date.

Justice Ibrahim Galadima, who also issued an interim order restraining the labour unions from embarking on the strike action, gave the ruling following an ex parte application filed by a group, Peace and Unity Ambassadors Association, through their counsel, Sunusi Musa.

The court also granted an order compelling the Inspector-General of Police and the Director-General, Department of State Services, to provide protection for workers engaged in their legitimate duties from any form of harassment, intimidation and bullying by the officers, agents or privies of the unions pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

Meanwhile, barely 24 hours after the ruling, the judge on Friday issued another order restraining the unions from going ahead with the strike, following an ex parte application by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.

The Federal Government of Nigeria and the AGF are the plaintiffs in the second suit marked NICN/ABJ/257/2020. The ex parte application was signed by the AGF, Abubakar Malami (SAN).

In their reaction on Saturday, however, the police said they would be guided by the position of the law on the matter.

Force spokesperson, DCP Frank Mba, in his response to questions from one of our correspondents on Saturday, simply said, “What does the law say in this circumstance? We would enforce the law. That is the only thing I can say.”

The meeting between the labour unions and the Federal Government had been adjourned till Monday following the failure of the two parties to reach a compromise on the matter.

Police lack the power to stop labour’s protest, strike – Lawyers

Meanwhile, lawyers have said the police lacked the power to stop the union members from staging their planned protest.

The police had on several occasions disrupted protests and in some instances arrested some of the protesters.

Among several examples, armed policemen from the Lagos State Police Command on September 9 arrested several protesters and journalists during a protest against the hike in electricity tariff and fuel price. They also dispersed protesters at Ojuelegba area of the state.

But a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Chino Obiagwu, said on Saturday that the police had no power to stop the labour unions’ planned protests or strike.

He added that the police could not confer on themselves the duty to enforce the court order restraining the labour unions from going ahead with the strike when the procedure for such had been stipulated in law.

He said, “The court order, according to a media report, is about NLC going on strike, it has nothing to do with the protest. The court did not say citizens should not go out to protest, it said the labour should not go on strike. So, it is a trade dispute. It is not a criminal matter. The police have no business in trade disputes. It is for the Nigerian government to go to court to obtain an order against whoever they believe has disobeyed the court order.”

The senior advocate explained that the only way to enforce court judgment “is to approach the court for the issuance of Form 48 and Form 49 and proceed judicially”.

He added, “The court will then make an order that the person who is in contempt of court be arrested; that is when the police will step in. It is not for the police to on their own say they want to enforce the order. Where has that happened?

“The Sheriff and Civil Processes Act provides for how court orders are enforced. In the case of All Nigerian People’s Party vs Inspector-General of Police, the Court of Appeal has said you don’t need a police permit to protest because the right to freedom of assembly and association is inherent. The ANPP was one of the parties that merged to form the All Progressives Congress coalition; they were the one that went to court.”

Another lawyer and activist, Inibehe Effiong, also argued that the police lacked the power to stop the labour from protesting as no court could have issued any order to stop any Nigerian from protesting.

Effiong said, “I do not think any court in Nigeria can give an injunction against people from protesting. That will be an affront to the constitution. If by Monday the police or the State Security Services say they are acting in furtherance to the order of the court to stop members of the labour movement from coming out to get their members to protest the hike in pump price and electricity tariff, it will be a flagrant attack on the constitution.

“There is no institution in Nigeria that can stop Nigerians from exercising their rights that have been granted them by the constitution.”

The lawyer also contended that the labour unions were justified to go ahead with the strike if they had not been served with the court order stopping the industrial action.

He, however, advised that if the labour leaders had been served with the court order, they should first take steps to have the order vacated.

Effiong, who expressed reservations about the court orders stopping the strike, noted that such orders had not always been effective in stopping similar industrial actions in the past. He advised that “the judiciary should be sensitive to these issues so that it does not put itself in a position where it would become a subject of public ridicule”.

Also, human rights activist and lawyer, Mr Jiti Ogunye, said inasmuch as court orders were bound to be obeyed, he wondered how the police would force workers who stay away from work to go to work.

Ogunye said, “As a lawyer, I have always questioned the appropriateness of dashing to court to obtain an ex parte order of interim injunction and use it as a tool of mischief or a tool to truncate a noble and just process.

“Our courts are courts of law; their decisions must be respected; their orders must be obeyed. However, our courts cannot behave like an ostrich and court disobedience of their own orders by granting orders like this in an obviously political situation like this.

“Workers are saying they want to go on strike and they are restraining them and those orders are expected to be obeyed. I am not saying as a lawyer that those orders should not be obeyed, but it will be interesting to see how the police will enforce the order. Will they go into the houses of people who do not want to go to work and compel them to go to work?”

BIG STORY

Prosecute Soldiers Involved In Lekki Shootings, Reps Tell Buhari

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The minority caucus of the House of Representatives has called on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to order the arrest and prosecution of soldiers who attacked #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Tollgate on Tuesday night.

The Minority Leader, Mr Ndudi Elumelu, in a statement issued on Wednesday, “strongly” condemned the killing of “peaceful and unarmed” protesters by security operatives at Lekki Tollgate and other parts of the country.

The protesters were attacked by soldiers, who fired live ammunition at them after the Closed Circuit Television Cameras in the vicinity were reportedly removed and lights were turned off.

In the statement titled, ‘Reps Minority Condemns Killing of Protesters,’ the caucus said, “such wicked act of extrajudicial killing of defenseless citizens by suspected agents of the state cannot be justified or condoned under any rule or guise whatsoever.”

The statement partly read, “As lawmakers and representatives of the people, we cannot accept this gruesome execution of our young ones in their own country by security operatives. Life is sacred and no one has the right to terminate the life of another just because he has the apparatus of state power.

“Such brazen brutally and defilement of right to life, which is at the center of the ongoing protests across the nation, underscores the demand for an immediate and total overhaul of our nation’s security architecture.

“We, therefore, call on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately order the arrest and prosecution of officers involved in the Lekki killing as well as the withdrawal of soldiers from engaging protesters.”

The caucus also restated its earlier call on Buhari to urgently rejig the nation’s security architecture through extensive reforms and urgent replacement of the service chiefs “with more competent and professional hands to assist in effectively handling of the security challenges confronting the nation.”

The caucus commiserated with the families of the victims of “this heinous act” while assuring them of immediate legislative actions that will ensure that justice is served.

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BIG STORY

BREAKING: Sanwo-Olu Condemns Shooting of Lekki Protesters, Apologises To Lagosians

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Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has condemned the attack on #ENDSARS protesters by security forces on Tuesday evening in Lekki toll plaza.

He also announced the suspension of all state activities for three days in solidarity with the ongoing #ENDSARS protests and agitations across the state.

He stated the flag at all government facilities will be flown half-mast in the next three days.

He made these disclosures in a live broadcast this morning where he also gave updates on the shootings of protesters.

According to Sanwo-Olu, he went out all night with members of his team and they visited hospitals, mortuaries to get first-hand information on casualties

The governor said 24 of the injured were being treated at three hospitals- General Hospital (10); Reddington Hospitals (eight) and another hospital (six) adding that three of the victims had surgery and about four would be discharged today.

Appealing for calm, Sanwo-Olu apologized to the youths, reiterating their anger was justified.

He pleaded with parents/guardians to restrain their children/wards as the government makes efforts to contain the situation.

Details shortly…

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BIG STORY

BREAKING: Thugs Attack TVC Headquarters, Set BRT Station Ablaze In Lagos [VIDEOS]

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A Nigerian television station, Television Continental (TVC) headquarters in the Ikosi-Ketu area of Lagos.

The hoodlums also attacked a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) bus station in Oyingbo axis of Lagos State were said to have been attacked by hoodlums in the state.

More details soon.

 

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