POLICE DEPLOYMENT TO NURTW SECRETARIAT: AN ACT OF DICTATORSHIP AND IMPUNITY—-PULL BACK NOW!
We find it necessary and appropriate to respond to the elegantly-worded statement of the Nigeria Police, FCT Command issued on the August 29, 2023.
Signed by the Command’s spokesperson, SP Josephine Adeh (Anipr), the statement is rich in justifications, rules of engagement (in principle) and constitutional mandate but shrift on intentions (opaque black), what the police are actually doing and especially on the provisions of the corpus of the our Labour Law.
In a few words, we reiterate as follows:
A lawfully-elected leadership of the union is in place and in office. If anyone or party is deserving of protection, it is the lawfully elected one and not an impostor;
There was no manifest threat to the secretariat let alone its neighbourhood, so the police invited themselves in pursuance of a sinister motive by the State and they know it;
In the event of a major intra or inter-union dispute(s), there are clear provisions in the corpus of Labour Law for internal conflict resolution. The police are not part of that process and is reason why their invasion constitutes a violent interference in internal matters of the union in clear violation of the law;
We want to state clearly that even our own internal mechanism was not exhausted before the police invited themselves in;
Even during military dictatorship, the military were circumspect about taking over trade unions. So what kind of democracy are we running?;
The imminent bloodbath which the police speak about in their statement operates only in their wild imagination;
The invasion, according to the statement, “is to ensure that disputes are resolved peacefully and in accordance with the law”. We ask, when did our police constitute themselves into law courts? Isn’t this a case of extreme violation of our constitutional safeguards which clearly emphasise the separation of powers?;
In light of this, we hold that the behaviour of the police:
Is at variance with its mandate and a violation of the extant Labour Law;
Constitutes an interference in the internal affairs of the union in the eyes of the law;
Is worse than the military coup in Niger;
Poses a threat to the operation of our democracy and remains unacceptable;
Is an addition to other anti-people policies of the government.
Accordingly, we demand as follows:
Immediate withdrawal of the police from the secretariat of NURTW to enable the lawfully elected leadership of the union function;
Allow for the operation of the internal conflict resolution mechanism midwifed by the Congress;
Stop being an interloper and face other pressing internal security challenges;
The police are expected to be impartial in their operations or conduct;
Their loyalty should be to the people of Nigeria and not regimes;
If the police continue to operate in breach of these rules, they would soon lose their relevance.
In the event the police refuse to hearken to our wise counsel, we would:
Escalate this matter to other Labour Centres across the world, the ILO and other international organisations or bodies;
Commence a national strike action without further notice.
Accordingly, unions, state councils and civil society allies are to take this statement as a notice for mass action against dictatorship, impunity and oppression.
Finally, elegance of language can not be a substitute for dark intentions or sinister motives. Citizens are to note and be guided by the poem, “When They Came for the Jews”. A word is enough the the wise.
Head of Information and Public Affairs