Abuja, July 31, 2023: The Falana Chambers, solicitors to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has said the labour does not intend to disobey the ex parte order of the National Industrial Court over strike.
Mr Sam Ogala Esq. said this on Sunday in Abuja in a letter titled “Re- NLC in contempt of Court” and addressed to the Permanent Secretary/ Solicitor-General, Federal Ministry of Justice on July 28.
According to him, the decision of Nigerian workers to participate in peaceful rallies is for the interest of the masses and to protest the worsening economic crisis in the country.
“You were reported to have accused the leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress of treating the order of the National Industrial Court with contempt.
“Contrary to your unwarranted allegation, the Nigeria Labour Congress does not intend to disobey the ex parte order of the National Industrial Court.
“And to the effect that “the defendants/respondents are hereby restrained from embarking on the planned Industrial Action/or strike of any nature, pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice dated 5th June 2023.”
Ogala added that the National Industrial Court or any other Court had not granted an order of interim, interlocutory or perpetual injunction restraining Nigerian workers from participating in peaceful rallies convened by the NLC.
He argued that it was the constitutional right of Nigerian workers to protest peacefully and cannot by any stretch of imagination be classified as an Industrial action or strike of any nature.
“You ought not have threatened our client with contempt of court.
“It is pertinent to draw your attention to the case of Inspector- General of Polic vs Nigeria People Party (2008) of where the Court 12 WRN 65, where the Court upheld the fundamental right of Nigerians to protest without police permit in the leading judgment of the Court, Justice Adekeye.
“This includes the right to demonstrate, and the right to protest on matters of public concern are rights which are in the public interest and that which individuals must possess, and which they should exercise without impediment as long as no wrongful act is done.
“If as speculated by law enforcement agents, that breach of the peace will occur, our criminal code has made adequate provisions for sanctions against breakdown of law and order.
“So that the requirement of permit as a conditionality to holding meetings and rallies can no longer be justified in a democratic society.”
He added that, finally, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are part of democratic rights of every citizen of the country.
“Our legislature must guard these rights jealously as they are part of the foundation upon which the government itself rests.
“Having advised the Nigeria Labour Congress and its allies to conduct the rallies peacefully, you may wish to advise the Nigeria Police Force to comply with section 83(4) of the Police Establishment Act 2020.
“Where a person or organisation notifies the police of his or its intention to hold a public meeting, rally or procession on a public highway or such meetings in a place where the public has access to.
“The police officer responsible for the area where the meeting rally or procession will take place shall mobilise personnel to provide security to provide security cover for the meeting, rally or the procession,” he said.