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Federal Government Warns of Contempt Charge as Labour Persists with Strike Plans

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By Milcah Tanimu

In a contentious development, the Federal Government has issued a stern warning to the organised Labour, urging them to halt their scheduled strike set to commence today. This plea comes in light of a restraining order issued by the National Industrial Court, Abuja, on Friday, which the government contends must be adhered to.

The strike, announced by TUC President Festus Osifo, is a response to the alleged assault on NLC President Joe Ajaero by suspected thugs in Imo State on November 1. However, the NIC, through Justice Benedict Kanyip, has prohibited the labour centres and their affiliates from embarking on any form of strike, based on an ex-parte application submitted by the Federal Government.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, emphasized the gravity of violating the court order, cautioning that such actions could result in contempt charges. Kamarudeen Ogundele, the Special Assistant to the AGF on Communication and Publicity, stressed the importance of respecting the rule of law and allowing the court to adjudicate on the matter.

Despite the warnings, Osifo declared that all NLC and TUC affiliates were mobilized for the strike, potentially disrupting economic activities nationwide. The impetus for the strike revolves around the brutalization of NLC President Ajaero in Imo State, with the unions demanding the arrest and prosecution of those responsible.

The unions, undeterred by the court order, have written to their members, directing them to withdraw their services. Affiliates, including the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, have pledged to participate in the nationwide strike as instructed by the NLC.

In response to the strike, the Director-General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde, emphasized the importance of obeying court orders and encouraged dissatisfied members of the labour movement to address their concerns through appropriate channels.

As the situation escalates, various state police commands have expressed readiness to maintain peace and order during the strike. The Federal Government, represented by President Bola Tinubu’s administration, accused the Organised Labour of pursuing an agenda detrimental to the well-being of Nigerians, questioning the legitimacy of the strike in defiance of a court order.

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