The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and its affiliates to refrain from embarking on its planned protest in Nasarawa State.
Sequel to the death of two workers in the state in north-central Nigeria, the NHRC asked the group to desist from activities that would jeopardise the outcome of its investigation.
In a compliance advisory signed by the Executive Secretary of the commission, Professor Bem Angwe, all parties to the complaint before the NHRC were strongly advised to maintain peace and order, pending the final determination of the investigation of the complaint.
The commission also advised the Nasarawa State government to suspend the implementation of the reduction in the workers’ salaries, pending the completion of the investigation of the complaints.
It further directed law enforcement and security agencies to ensure full adherence to the compliance advisory till the investigation was fully completed and determined.
The NHRC added that the advisory became necessary following the reports it received that the NLC was planning to hold a rally in Lafia, the Nasarawa State’s capital and other places to protest against the state government on August 23.
The compliance advisory reads:
RE: PLANNED MASS PROTEST IN NASARAWA AND IMO STATES ON COMPLAINT OF ALLEGED SHOOTING AND KILLING OF NASARAWA STATE WORKERS AND DEMAND FOR JUSTICE.
INTERIM ORDER TO MAINTAIN STATUS QUO AND PEACE PENDING INVESTIGATION OF THE COMPLAINT.
ABUJA, 16 August 2016: This Advisory is issued in exercise of the responsibilities conferred on the National Human Rights Commission under Section 5(o) of the National Human Rights Commission Act, 1995 (as amended), which empowers the Commission to “on its own initiative…. report on actions that should be taken by the Federal, State or Local Government to comply with the provisions of any relevant international human rights instruments.” and
WHEREAS by a letter dated 3rd of August, the National Human Rights Commission received a complaint from the office of the President of Nigerian Labour Congress, alleging shooting and killing of some Nasarawa State workers by police in the course of meeting with the Governor of Nasarawa State.
WHEREAS the Commission has admitted the Complaint and commenced full investigation Pursuant to Section 5 of the National Human Rights Commission Act of 1995 (as amended) and have met with all the parties to the complaint.
WHEREAS it has come to the notice/attention of the National Human Rights Commission that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is planning to hold a rally in Lafia, the Nasarawa State Capital and other places to protest against the Nasarawa State Government on the 23rd August, 2016.
WHEREAS the National Human Rights Commission affirms that the right to assemble freely and to protest or demonstrate peacefully is a human right guaranteed by Sections 39-40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Articles 9-11 of the African charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which is domestic law in Nigeria.
WHEREAS the National Human Rights Commission also affirms that under Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nigeria is also party, “no restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (order public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”
AND WHEREAS there is need to forestall a recurrence of such incident during the planned rally which, though well within the right of the organised labour (and indeed any other citizen at that) to hold or participate in, could still go awry when members of the congress participating in the rally becomes uncontrollable, or are infiltrated by other elements with ulterior motives;
NOW THEREFORE, the National Human Rights Commission in a considered opinion in line with Sections 6 (1)(a) of the NHRC Act (as amended) and rules 67(1)&(2) of the Standing Orders and Rules of Procedure (STORP) of the Commission do hereby, issue the following interim measures as COMPLIANCE ADVISORY:
a) All parties to the complaint before the Commission are hereby STRONGLY ADVISED to maintain peace and order pending the final determination of the investigation of the complaint.
b) NLC and its affiliates are hereby STRONGLY ADVISED to refrain from embarking on the planned or any protest in connection with this complaint either in Nassarawa State or do any such act that will jeopardize, or has the potentials of affecting the protection of parties, victims, evidence, witnesses or any participants in the complaint process or the outcome of the investigation.
c) The Government of Nassarawa State is to suspend forthwith, the implementation of the reduction in the worker’s salary, pending the completion of the investigation of the complaints
d) All parties to this complaint as well as the law enforcement and security agencies are to ensure full compliance of this interim measure, pending the full investigation and determination of this complaint.
PLEASE NOTE: That by Section 6 (4) (d) of the NHRC Act, 1995 (as amended), it is a punishable offence for any person, body or authority to refuse to comply with lawful directives of the Commission.
Issued this 22nd day of August, 2016 at the National Human Rights Commission Headquarters.
Prof. Bem Angwe