FG Withdraws Contempt Suit Against NLC, TUC Following Protests

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The federal government has officially announced its decision to withdraw the contempt suit that was filed against the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
FG Withdraws Contempt Suit Against NLC, TUC Following Protests
This decision comes after a series of events involving protests and negotiations between the government and the labor unions.

The sequence of events began on July 26, when the NLC issued a stern ultimatum to the federal government, demanding the reversal of what they termed “anti-poor” and “insensitive” policies. These policies included the recent increase in the price of petrol and a sudden surge in public school fees, among other grievances.

With the seven-day ultimatum set by the NLC, the labor movements warned of an impending strike and widespread protests if their demands were not met by the government.

The government, on the other hand, cited a restraining order from the national industrial court, prohibiting the NLC and its affiliates from engaging in any industrial action concerning the removal of the petrol subsidy. This order also forbade them from organizing protests across the nation.

Despite the government’s stance and the court order, organized labor went forward with nationwide protests on August 2, 2023. These demonstrations were marked by a show of solidarity among workers from various sectors.

Subsequently, the federal government initiated contempt proceedings against the labor unions for allegedly flouting the court order restraining them from engaging in any form of industrial action. The government filed a “notice of consequences of disobedience to order of the court,” commonly referred to as “form 48,” before the national industrial court in Abuja.

The protests eventually came to a temporary halt on August 3, 2023, following a meeting between the leaders of the labor unions and President Bola Tinubu at the presidential villa in Abuja. During the meeting, discussions took place, and an agreement was reached, leading to the suspension of the protests.

In a communication addressed to Femi Falana, the legal representative for the NLC, Beatrice Jedy-Agba, the Solicitor-General of the Federation, acknowledged the disruption caused by the protests, including the breach of the National Assembly gate.

She explained that due to the intervention of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the decision of the labor unions to call off their industrial action after discussions with the president and the leadership of the National Assembly, the federal government decided not to proceed further with the contempt proceedings.

“The foregoing prompted the ministry to initiate contempt proceedings by filing Form 48 on the same 2nd August 2023 in accordance with section 72 of the Sheriffs and civil process act and order 9 rule 13 of the judgment (enforcement) rules.

“It is trite that issuance of Form 48 is just the starting point in contempt proceedings which will only crystalize upon the issuance of Form 49 and the consequential committal order.

“Upon the intervention of his excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the decision of the labor unions to call off their industrial action after meetings with the president and leadership of the national assembly, this ministry did not proceed further with the contempt proceedings, which would have required the issuance of Form 49 within two days of the issuance of Form 48.

“It is self-evident that the non-issuance of Form 49 as of 4th August 2023, renders the contempt proceedings inchoate.”

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