NLC strike: There’s no court order against rallies, Falana counters FG

Ogunsakin Mustapha
5 Min Read

Lawyer to Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Femi Falana SAN on Sunday refuted claims by the Federal Government warning that the Labour Union will be in contempt of a National Industrial Court order should it embark on its proposed rallies across the country in protest against the unprecedented hike in the price of petrol.

The Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mrs Beatrice Jeddy-Agba had at the weekend warned NLC against the strike, saying it will be in contempt of an ex parte order of court dated June 5, 2023. 

The NLC had last Wednesday, issued a notice to begin a nationwide strike  on August 2  to protest the removal of fuel subsidy amid an astronomical hike in the pump price of petrol resulting from the policy announced by President Bola Tinubu at his inauguration on 29 May.

Femi Falana SAN

But Falana in his reaction called the warning by the Federal Government “unwarranted allegation”, saying that no court had granted any order, interim, interlocutory, or perpetual restraining Nigerian workers from engaging in peaceful rallies convened by NLC.

Below is the full statement of Falana as signed by a lawyer in his chambers, Sam Ogala:

July 28, 2023

The Permanent Secretary/ Solicitor-General,

Federal Ministry of Justice,

Maitama District,

Abuja, FCT.

RE-NLC IN CONTEMPT OF COURT 

In your reaction to the decision of  Nigerian workers to participate in peaceful rallies to protest the worsening economic crisis in the country you were reported to have accused the leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress of treating the order of the National Industrial Court with contempt. 

Contrary to your unwarranted allegation, the Nigeria Labour Congress does not intend to disobey the ex parte order of the National Industrial Court to the effect that “The defendants/Respondents are hereby restrained from embarking on the planned Industrial Action/or strike of any nature, pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice dated 5th June 2023.”

You will agree with us that the National Industrial Court or any other Court has not granted an order of interim, interlocutory or perpetual injunction restraining Nigerian workers from participating in peaceful rallies convened by the Nigeria Labour Congress. Since the 

the constitutional right of Nigerian workers to protest peacefully cannot by any stretch of imagination be classified as an Industrial action or strike of any nature, you ought not have threatened our client with contempt of court. 

It is pertinent to draw your attention to the case of 

INSPECTOR-GENERAL OF POLICE v ALL NIGERIA PEOPLES PARTY (2008) 12 WRN 65 where the Court upheld the fundamental right of Nigerians to protest without police permit. In the leading judgment of the Court, Justice Adekeye said as follows:

“The right to demonstrate and the right to protest on matters of public concern are rights which are in the public interest and that which individuals must possess, and which they should exercise without impediment as long as no wrongful act is done. If as speculated by law enforcement agents that breach of the peace would occur our criminal code has made adequate provisions for sanctions against breakdown of law and order so that the requirement of permit as a conditionality to holding meetings and rallies can no longer be justified in a democratic society. Finally, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are part of democratic rights of every citizen of the republic; our legislature must guard these rights jealously as they are part of the foundation upon which the government itself rests.”

Having advised the Nigeria Labour Congress and its allies to conduct the rallies peacefully, you may wish to advise the Nigeria Police Force to comply with section 83(4) of the Police Establishment Act 2020, which “where a person or organization notifies the police of his or its intention to hold a public meeting, rally or procession on a public highway or such meetings in a place where the public has access to , the police officer responsible for the area where the meeting rally or procession will take place shall mobilize personnel to provide security to provide security cover for the meeting, rally or the procession.”

Accept our kind regards. 

Yours Sincerely,

Sam Ogala Esq.

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