Again court bars NLC, TUC from going ahead with Nov 14 strike
The National Industrial Court, yesterday, restrained the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) as well as their affiliates from embarking on any form of strike or industrial action.
The two major Labour unions were ordered to stop their nationwide strike scheduled to commence on Tuesday, November 14.
President of the Court, Justice Benedict Bakwaph Kanyip, issued the Restraining Order following an Ex-parte application to that effect brought before the court by the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice.
Justice Kanyip invoked Sections 17 and 19 of the National Industrial Court Act to issue the Restraining Order against the Labour.
The Federal Government and the AGF through their lawyer, Tijani Gazali, had in the Ex-parte application prayed the court to stop the planned strike so as to prevent untold hardships that would be inflicted on innocent law-abiding citizens and their businesses.
Gazali, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and Director of Civil Appeals in the Federal Ministry of Justice, while arguing the Ex-parte application, drew the attention of Justice Kanyip to series of hardships suffered by Nigerians on Thursday alone, when the Labour unions blocked entrances to the main airports in the country.
He pleaded that unless the planned strike was stopped, there might be a likelihood of breach of peace and tranquility in the country.
The Judge, who was persuaded by the government arguments in a short ruling, said that ‘’it is within the power of the court to intervene by way of restraining order to ensure peace and tranquility.’’
He proceeded to grant all the requests of the Federal Government as contained in the motion paper.
Besides, Justice Kanyip directed that the restraining order be pasted on the wall of the Labour House, being the last known address of the two defendants to draw their attention to the court’s position.
The judge also directed that the order, along with the originating and other processes, be served on the defendants by publication in two major national dailies.
Meanwhile, the case file has been transferred to Justice Olufunke Yemi Anuwe, who was said to be handling similar Labour dispute-related matters between the same two parties.
Justice Anuwe, the Court President said, would issue hearing notice to the parties at the appropriate time.
In a related development, the NLC President, Joe Ajaere, yesterday, in Abuja, painfully narrated his ordeal in the hands of yet-to-be-identified security personnel in Owerri, Imo State last week.
In a vividly sober voice, Ajaero carefully gave an on-the-spot account of how he was beaten by suspected state-inspired thugs.
Ajaero said he was arrested by the Police in Owerri, the Imo State capital and handed over to suspected thugs numbering about seven, who “beat him and dragged him on the floor like a common criminal.”
As a security precaution, Ajaero hinted that the NLC had written to all the security agencies before Labour went to the state for the protest.
The Labour leader said he gave his itinerary to the Department of State Services on the day of the protest.
The NLC president said that workers who arrived at the venue of the protest on that day around 7am were stopped and were dispossessed of their personal effects such as phones and money, adding that they were also beaten up by suspected thugs.
He said two television workers were handcuffed and their cameras seized during the protest.
Ajaero said he got to the venue of the protest around 9.00am after he got a report of an assault on workers that arrived earlier.
He alleged that the police arrested him and handed him over to suspected thugs.
He said: “A police officer arrested me and handed me over to the thugs. That was how they dragged me on the floor and took me to a bus. They were about seven people.
“I can’t explain the beating I received. They tied my hands and eyes and dragged me on the floor like a common criminal.
“They asked me to say my last prayers.”
Ajaero said he is not a card-carrying member of any political party as alleged.
Ajaero said: “Gov Uzodimma said I am playing local politics. I do not know which one is local politics. I am not a card-carrying member of any political party in Nigeria. And as a governor, he should be privileged to some classified information to say which political party I belong to.
“But I thank God that I am alive today. Whoever has diverted the workers’ money, has diverted blood money, and has attracted generational curse.
“There were some media organisations that their staff were humiliated on that day. Two TVC staff were handcuffed. Were they also playing politics? And the TVC has kept criminal silence about it.
“Why has the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) not said a word about the humiliation of journalists?”
He said the struggle to ensure that workers in Imo were paid would continue despite his humiliation.
The Labour leader said not even his death would stop the struggle to ensure that workers, who are being owed, are paid their entitlement.
“Not even my death could have stopped the struggle for the payment of those workers. If I had died in the process, the people that would take over, would be more daring.
“Any of the deputies here that would take over, would have been more decisive. So nobody is backing out, it is a question of allowing justice to prevail and the people you are owing you pay them.”
General Secretary of the NLC, Emmanuel Ugboaja, insisted that workers would withdraw their services nationwide indefinitely on Tuesday, if the Federal Government failed to intervene.
But, the court, yesterday, stopped the proposed strike.
He continued: “We will not accept the torture, humiliation, brutalisation of a citizen, a citizen that has global stature. There have been calls from all over the world to clarify what transpired and the state of Joe Ajaero. So, if people from across the world are calling, and your own country is not speaking, it means that there is something they know that we do not know.’’