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NLC To Embark On National Protest Over Brutalization By Ngige’s Thugs

The Central Working Committee [CWC] of the Nigeria Labour Congress [NLC] has resolved to embark on a national protest on Monday, May 13 2019 in Abuja to protest the brutalization of its members by thugs believed to be unleashed by Minister of Labour and Employment , Dr. Chris Ngige.

NLC disclosed this in a communique of the Central Working Committee of the Nigeria Labour Congress issued on Thursday signed by NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni and the General Secretary, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson.

The Communique reads:

An emergency meeting of the Central Working Committee of the Nigeria Labour Congress comprising all the Presidents and General Secretaries of the affiliate unions of the Nigeria Labour Congress and members of the National Administrative Council of the Congress held today,  Thursday, May 9, 2091 at Labour House, Abuja.

Labour picketing Ngige’s residence in Abuja

The meeting reviewed the circumstances surrounding the recalcitrance of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige to inaugurate the board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) after the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari to do so, and entreaties from the Organised Labour to inaugurate.

The meeting reviewed the decision of the Congress Delegates Conference in February this year  to picket the Minister of Labour and Productivity if he failed to inaugurate the board on or before May 1, 2019.

The meeting similarly reviewed the execution of the picket at the official residence of and office the Minister of Labour and Employment noting that it was lawful as it was done along a public thoroughfare facing his house and not inside his house;

The CWC noted that the workers conducted themselves peacefully and responsibly and bore nothing other than placards in line with the fine  traditions of picketing.

The CWC observed that in spite of having conducted themselves reasonably well, responsibly and peacefully, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige mobilized thugs and hoodlums to attack the workers  using all manner of weapons including stones, planks, rods, etc.

The CWC further observed that in the course  of unleashing this mindless violence, the thugs caused maximum damage to the vehicles of workers, affiliate unions and Congress. Congress noted that workers suffered varying degrees of personal losses. CWC also observed that at least nine suffered serious injuries with three admitted at various hospitals.

The CWC accordingly condemned in the strongest terms the use of thugs to break up a peaceful picket guaranteed by the Law, adding that it is anti-democratic, repressive and anti-workers. It is also a violation of ILO Conventions and the fundamental right of workers to protest. The CWC said all workers in Nigeria and around the world have the right to freely associate or freely disagree.

The CWC expressed concern that the Minister of Labour and Employment, part of whose duty is to uphold the sanctity of labour laws as well as conduct himself as a conciliator or an impartial arbiter could degenerate to the level of engaging thugs.

CWC noted that one of the reasons the Minister gave for not inaugurating the board was that he was carrying out an administrative probe of corruption in the organization.

The truth however remains that it was an unnecessary excuse for him to micro-manage the place as well as carry on as the sole administrator of the place for obvious reasons.

The CWC wants to put on record that the EFCC has since carried out investigation, taken to court those with cases to answer and secured convictions.

Among those convicted is a former Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Labour who was a statutory member of NSITF board. No member of Organised Labour on the board was found wanting.

CWC further noted that no matter how long Dr. Ngige holds onto the sole proprietorship of NSITF, no matter who he places there to cover up his tracks, he cannot escape a probe of his activities at the appropriate time. The CWC said that it has no doubt that Dr. Ngige will be called upon to account for his activities at the NSITF.

CWC noted that the use of thuggery to resolve issues of dispute introduces new dangerous dimensions in labour relations whose outcome cannot easily be predicted as no one has monopoly of violence.

CWC expressed shock that security forces watched with detached indifference as hoodlums unleashed mayhem at defenseless workers. It similarly expressed dismay that no voice has been heard from the government condemning this unnecessary display of savagery and primitivism.

Accordingly, the CWC resolved to demand for an unconditional and unqualified apology from the government both for the primitive behavior of its Minister and its suspicious silence, explaining that whereas the Vice President found it necessary to step out of his car to address indigenous communities which were protesting against the forceful acquisition of their land by the military, the minister resorted to recruiting thugs to engage workers.

The CWC resolved to hold Dr Chris Ngige and members of his family personally responsible for the violence visited on the workers and injuries that they suffered, adding they have sown a seed of violence.

The CWC also resolved to send his name and names of his immediate family members to all airports, train stations, shipping ports and all public entry and exit point around the world in other to be visited upon them protest/disgrace for their ignominious role in the violence unleashed against workers.

The CWC resolved that in consideration of Ngige’s past records of trading off his conscience for power as evidenced by Okija, his reputation for using thugs against the citizenry, and his questionable acts around NSITF, he his not fit to hold public office.

The CWC called for the arrest and prosecution of the thugs and their sponsors since they are well known.

The CWC demanded that government should come clean about what is happening.

The CWC resolved to embark on a national protest on Monday, May 13 2019 in Abuja against the brutalization of its members by the Ngige thugs, and has accordingly directed its members and civil society allies to commence immediate mobilisation.

The CWC resolved that they were ready to be killed by the thugs hired by Dr Ngige or security agents who maintained a complicitous silence while its members were being mowed down.

Finally, the CWC also demanded that the board of the NSITF  be inaugurated with Chief Frank Kokori as Chairman without further delay, as the funds at the NSITF belong to workers, warning that anything to the contrary is capable of inviting more protests.

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