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.
“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.