FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WITHDRAWS CONTEMPT CHARGE AGAINST NLC AND TUC, AVERTS POSSIBLE STRIKE

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In an effort to prevent a potential nationwide industrial strike, the Nigerian federal government has decided to retract its plans to initiate contempt proceedings against the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC).

Last week, the government, represented by the Federal Ministry of Justice, had threatened legal action against the labour leaders for alleged failure to adhere to court orders that restrained them from engaging in industrial action. The government accused the unions of proceeding with public protests on August 2nd, 2023, in response to the fuel subsidy removal dispute.

The NLC responded swiftly, holding an emergency National Executive Council Meeting and issuing a warning that a nationwide strike would be declared if its leaders were taken to court for contempt.

However, in a letter addressed to Femi Falana, the lead counsel for the NLC, and obtained by the press, the Solicitor General of the Federation, Mrs. B.E. Jeddy-Agba, conveyed that the Ministry of Justice had withdrawn the contempt proceedings.

The letter, dated August 7, mentioned that the withdrawal was due to the intervention of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the decision of the labour unions to call off their industrial action following discussions with the President and National Assembly leadership.

The letter stated, “Given that no Form 49 was issued by August 4, 2023, the contempt proceedings remain incomplete. The issues raised by the NLC in its communique have been rendered irrelevant by recent developments.”

Jeddy-Agba explained that the Ministry’s stance was aimed at protecting the court’s integrity and avoiding disruption to public services. She recalled the exchange of correspondence between the Ministry and Falana regarding compliance with court orders restraining industrial action. Despite these exchanges, the labour unions proceeded with public protests on August 2nd, 2023, leading to the initiation of contempt proceedings through the filing of Form 48.

The Solicitor General clarified that the issuance of Form 48 is just the initial step in contempt proceedings, with further actions requiring the issuance of Form 49 and a consequent committal order.

Ultimately, the government’s withdrawal of the contempt charge is seen as a strategic move to maintain stability and prevent a potential nationwide strike that could have had significant economic and social impacts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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