The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), have stated that the police occupation of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) secretariat is unlawful, unacceptable, rape of constitution and it constitutes an interference in the internal affairs of the union in the eyes of the law.
The labour centers in separate statements declared that police decision is at variance with its mandate and a violation of the extant Labour Law
NLC in a statement by Comrade, Benson Upah, Head of Information and Public Affairs, said: “Police decision is worse than the military coup in Niger; Poses a threat to the operation of our democracy and remains unacceptable; Is an addition to other anti-people policies of the government.
“Accordingly, we demand as follows: Immediate withdrawal of the police from the secretariat of NURTW to enable the lawfully elected leadership of the union function;
“Allow for the operation of the internal conflict resolution mechanism midwifed by the Congress;
“Stop being an interloper and face other pressing internal security challenges; The police are expected to be impartial in their operations or conduct;
“Their loyalty should be to the people of Nigeria and not regimes;
“If the police continue to operate in breach of these rules, they will soon lose their relevance.
“In the event, that the police refuse to hearken to our wise counsel, we would: Escalate this matter to other Labour Centres across the world, the ILO, and other international organisations or bodies; commence a national strike action without further notice.
“Accordingly, unions, state councils, and civil society allies are to take this statement as a notice for mass action against dictatorship, impunity, and oppression”.
Comrade (Engr) Festus Osifo, President of TUC, and Comrade Nuhu Toro, Secretary General, in a statement, said the Constitution which is the supreme law of the Country states in Section 43 that: ‘’Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, every citizen of Nigeria shall have the right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria’’.
It goes on further in Section 44 to state that: “No moveable property or any interest in an immovable property shall be taken possession of compulsorily and no right over or interest in any such property shall be acquired compulsorily in any part of Nigeria except in the manner and for the purposes prescribed by a law”.
“Therefore, the forceful occupation of the NURTW Secretariat Abuja by the Police without any court order is illegal, draconian, unconstitutional and must be reversed forthwith.
“The statement by the police on Tuesday, August 30, 2023, claiming that its seizure of the union offices since August 12, 2023, was to forestall an alleged factional clash in the union, is laughable, in our opinion, and intended to misinform the public.
“It is instructive to note that the police statement did not make any reference to its continued illegal occupation of the Lagos State offices of the NURTW, an affiliate of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and their inability to enforce the order of a court of competent jurisdiction in the case of our affiliate the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, RTEAN”.
The TUC had in its 17th July 2023 letter drawn the attention of the Inspector General of Police to the April 18, 2023 order of the National Industrial Court, NIC which is an appellate court, requesting the police to intervene in the violation of section 40 ordering the police to enforce the judgement in favour of RTEAN offices in Lagos, which is continuously violated by the Lagos State government, therefore the occupation of the NURTW offices in Abuja is a continuation of the unconstitutional occupation of the union’s offices in Lagos State despite subsisting court orders. Rather than maintain law and order, the police as in the case of the NURTW, is encouraging lawlessness and disorder.
The TUC advises President Tinubu’s administration to rein in the security services whose personnel are engaging in serial lawlessness and acts of impunity and call them to order without further delay.
To avoid a situation where the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and all our affiliates and Allies might be compelled to join the NLC our sister labour centre in solidarity, we demand that President Tinubu orders the Nigeria Police to vacate all union offices and insist that things be done in accordance with the laws and constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
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