AGF to NLC: Respect Court Order, Shelve Planned Nationwide Protest

The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) has warned the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to shelve its its planned nationwide protest on February 27 and February 28, 2024.

In a letter dated February 23, addressed to the counsel to the NLC, Femi Falana (SAN), the AGF said the planned industrial action could amount to contempt in view of a restraining order of a National Industrial Court.

The NLC leadership had accused the federal government of refusing to implement the MoU which touched on workers’ welfare among other agreements.

But Fagbemi said in his letter that the planned protest was premised on or connected with alleged non-implementation of the 16-point agreement reached with the Federal Government in October last year, adding it was targeted at promoting issues connected with hike in fuel price and consequential matters of palliatives, workers welfare, and associated government policies.

Fagbemi reminded Falana in his letter titled, “Re: Memorandum of Understanding reached between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) as a result of dispute arising from withdrawal of subsidy on the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) on Monday, the 2nd of October, 2023”, of a pending case before the National Industrial Court regarding the development.

“Upon the submission of grievances to the court, parties in the suit cannot resort to public protests over the same issues, as such conduct amounts to gross contempt and affront to the institution of our courts of law.

“Therefore, the proposed nationwide protest in all ramifications is in clear violation of the pending interim injunctive order granted in Suit No: NICN/ABJ/158/2023 – Federal Government of Nigeria & Anor V. Nigerian Labour Congress & Anor on 5th June, 2023 restraining both NLC and TUC from embarking on any industrial action or strike of any nature.

“It is not in doubt that the planned protest is designed to compel government to accede to the demands of organized labour, therefore, such action qualifies as an industrial action which comes within the ambit of the restraining order,” Fagbemi added and explained that the restraining order had neither been stayed nor set-aside, and therefore, remained binding on all parties, including Nigerian workers.

The letter reads, ”I wish to note that government has substantially and reasonably complied with the items in the MoU and it is only appropriate and equitable for organized labour to engage more with government to ensure the full implementation of same, especially in areas that have been inhibited by unforeseen challenges.

“May I therefore request that you kindly implore and enjoin your clients to refrain from self-help by shelving the proposed protests which is antithetical to the mediatory engagements leading to the execution of the MoU, tantamount to undermining subsisting restraining court order, and occasioning disruption of public service, order and safety,” the letter added.