By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
While insisting that the Kaduna State Goverment is taking a wrong step with the setting up of a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to look into the May 2020 industrial action that grounded the state, the NIgeria Labour Congress (NLC) has urged all its affiliate trade unions and members across the country to step up mobilisation.
This was contained in a statement signed by the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, dated July 6, 2021.
“Our attention has been drawn to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the Kaduna State Government to look into the remote and immediate causes of the warning strike action by the Nigeria Labour Congress from May 16 – 19, 2021, its legality and the impact on the state and other entities.
“The Commission of Inquiry is also to look at the role played by various individuals and organisations including our own Nigeria Police Force and determine or recommend consequential action(s).
“Without prejudice to the right of a state government to set up a commission of inquiry, and although we have the greatest respect for the Chairman of the Commission, Justice Ishaq Bello and members of the Commission (save hirelings/hatchet men), we would think this is a joke taken too far, an abuse of executive powers of a governor and a waste of the resources of the state.
“But then, this trend would seem to be a logical sequence to the powers (that he wrongfully appropriated) that made him declare wanted Labour leaders during the warning strike.
“But beside this, we would want to state unequivocally that the warning strike was purely a Labour dispute and industrial relations action legitimised by the 1999 constitution (as amended) and the corpus of our Labour Law as the rights to strike and protest by workers and their trade unions are universal rights guaranteed by the provisions of international labour conventions which Nigeria has ratified.
“Similarly, the process that led to the action was legally or lawfully competent.And in the unlikely event that it became a subject of litigation, the appropriate judicial body would be a court of competent jurisdiction as provided for by the 1999 constitution, (as amended) as El-Rufai cannot be a judicial body. More so is the fact that Labour and industrial relations issues are on the Exclusive Legislative List.
“It is trite knowledge that inclusive in its inherent powers, the National Industrial Court is vested powers to invoke global best practices in resolving disputes through adjudication.
“It is equally important to point out that Mr El-Rufai or the Kaduna State is a party to this dispute. In furtherance of one of the core principles of law which states that one cannot be a Judge in one ‘s case, we do not see how Mr El-Rufai/Kaduna State Goverment could be Judge in this matter and we would still have justice given his repeated boast that he would deal with labour leaders and those who took part in the strike action….and that by the time he was done, they would never again set their feet in Kaduna.
“One of the dangers of one being a Judge in one’s case is manifested in this extant matter by virtue of the fact that the Governor/Government glaringly neglected to cite itself for sanction even as it procured and deployed thugs that inflicted grievous injuries on our peacefully protesting members in the full glare of television cameras and under the watchful eye of the police. How therefore can there be justice when one is Judge in one’s own case.
“In light of this, we advise the Governor to learn to respect his office, the oath of office he took, our Labour Laws and the MoU his Government voluntarily signed with Organised Labour.
“Meanwhile, we aver that our statutory notice on the escalation of this strike/protest action as given by our National Executive Council effective from 22nd June 2021 stands. running. In furtherance of this, all our affiliate trade unions and members across the country are to step up mobilisation.”