NLC Sounds Alarm on Police Interference with Unions, Warns of Mass Demonstrations

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NLC Sounds Alarm on Police Interference with Unions, Warns of Mass Demonstrations
Police Harassment Unleashes NLC’s Fury: Calls for Nationwide Action

In a recent development that has raised concerns among various labor unions, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has strongly condemned alleged instances of police harassment and intimidation against union leaders. The NLC has issued a stern warning, stating that if the acting Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kayode Egbetokun, does not put an end to these perceived illegal actions, they will proceed to stage protests at police headquarters and stations across the nation.

The focal point of the NLC’s disapproval centers around what they assert is an unwarranted interference by the IGP in the internal affairs of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), an affiliate of the NLC. In an official statement released by NLC President Joe Ajaero, concerns were highlighted regarding the apparent curtailment of lawful activities of NURTW, particularly in Lagos State and other states in the Southwest region, including Oyo, Osun, and Ondo.

NLC’s statement emphasizes that despite court pronouncements that should have protected NURTW’s activities, these unions have been subject to stifling constraints. The NLC further claims that the same entities responsible for forcefully assuming control of the unions in the aforementioned states, and even renaming some as “Lands and Parks,” are now aiming to extend their influence nationwide.

A recent incident involving the alleged detention of national officers of the union by the police has amplified the NLC’s concerns. These officers had voluntarily appeared before the police following an invitation by the IGP. However, they were reportedly detained without clear justification, prompting suspicions that the intention behind the move was to disrupt a legally convened trade union event.

In a strongly worded statement, Ajaero stated, “Nigerians should be aware that some forces seek to completely takeover the leadership of the union, which they hope to use to seize the nation’s civic space, muzzle voices of opposition and undermine democratic practices and aspirations in Nigeria.”

The NLC questions the IGP’s authority to involve himself in matters concerning trade unions, as it argues that the police force is not a court, as stipulated by the Constitution. The NLC asserts that proper legal procedures for settling industrial disputes are clearly outlined in Nigerian laws and regulations. They assert that the IGP, being the chief law enforcement officer, should be well-versed in these processes and should not operate above the law.

“This situation,” Ajaero emphasizes, “demonstrates a further extension of the same brutal power play at work, which was used by the same actors to forcefully take over the union which was established under the instrumentality of the law.”

The NLC warns the IGP to exercise caution and refrain from meddling in matters that fall outside the scope of his authority. Instead, they suggest that if the police receive complaints against trade unions engaged in legitimate activities, the appropriate course of action is to refer such matters to the Federal Ministry of Labour, which has the legal mandate to intervene or mediate such disputes. The NLC firmly believes that resorting to harassment, intimidation, and pressure tactics against union leaders is not acceptable and should be condemned by all who value democratic principles.

The labor landscape in Nigeria remains tense as the NLC takes a firm stance against what they perceive as unlawful interference in their affiliates’ affairs. All eyes are now on the IGP’s response to these allegations and whether the threatened nationwide protests will indeed come to fruition.

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