El-Rufai Lacks Power To Declare NLC Chairman Wanted – Falana

A file photo of Femi Falana SAN

 

Human Rights lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has slammed Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, for declaring President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba and other union leaders wanted.

The NLC had on Monday embarked on a protest and strike to press home their demand bordering on the mass sack of workers in the state. The strike has paralysed critical sectors of the economy in the state.

Kaduna State government in response declared Wabba and other NLC leaders wanted for economic sabotage and attacks on public infrastructure in Kaduna State under the Miscellaneous Offences Act.

Reacting to El-Rufai’s declaration, Falana described as ‘laughable’ the claim that the labour leaders contravened the provisions of the Miscellaneous Offences Act.

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“The statement is laughable as it is common knowledge that Comrade Wabba and his colleagues are on the streets of Kaduna leading the peaceful protests embarked upon by the entire workers in the State since yesterday. The order of the Governor cannot be enforced for the following reasons:

“1. By the combined effect of the Trade Union Act and the Nigerian Constitution, Comrade Wabba and other labour leaders have the unquestionable rights to participate in the peaceful warning strike and mass protests against further retrenchment of workers in the Kaduna State public service.

“2. The Miscellaneous Offences Act is not a state statute but a federal enactment. To that extent, if Governor El Rufai has evidence that Comrade Wabba and other labour leaders have contravened any provisions of the Act he is required to lodge a complaint in any of the police stations in Kaduna State. The Governor lacks the power to declare any alleged offender wanted under the Act or any other law whatsoever.

“3. Furthermore, since Comrade Wabba and other labour leaders are entitled to the fundamental right of fair hearing including the presumption of innocence guaranteed by section 36 of the Constitution the Governor of Kaduna lacks the power to declare them wanted.”

Falana, therefore, called on the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies to ignore the “illegal statement” by Governor El Rufai.

Kaduna Airport Shut, Fuel Queues Surface As NLC Protests Sack Of Members

 

Members of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Monday morning gathered in Kaduna to protest the recent disengagement of over seven thousand civil servants at the state and local governments by the state government.

In solidarity with the protest by the NLC, aviation workers have shut down operations of Kaduna International Airport (KIA) effective Sunday midnight.

The workers, under the aegis of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP), and National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), said the airport would remain shut for the period of the warning strike.

National NLC Chairman, Ayuba Wabba, during the protest, said due process was not observed in the recent disengagement of the workers from the Local Government Service, State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), and Primary Health Care Agency.

Workers protest in Kaduna State

 

He said further that all the unions including Student Unions and pensioners are part of the protest as they are all directly affected by the disengagement of workers.

“All those that are here today are those that are directly affected. The students are here. The children of those workers that have been thrown out of their job and were not been paid, they are here with us.

“The pensioners that were not being paid are here with us. They claim that local government employees were consulted. The Local Government Employees are here today, they have issued a statement to say that statement was false.

“All leadership of public sector unions are here.

“It is only Kaduna State of all the 36 states of the Federation that threw workers out of their jobs without,” the NLC Chairman said.

Other affiliate unions including the National Union of Petroleum Employees of Nigeria (NUPENG), National Union of Electricity Employees of Nigeria (NUEE), National Union Of Textile, Tailoring and Garment Workers of Nigeria are also participating in the protest.

Meanwhile, earlier on Sunday long queues surfaces at petrol stations in various parts of Kaduna State, especially in the metropolis and other surrounding towns.

Motorists besieged filling stations in what can be described as panic buying of fuel ahead of the planned industrial action by the NLC and its affiliate unions in the state.