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Solicitor-General Clarifies Ministry’s Position on Planned Strike, Dismisses Threat Allegations

In a recent development regarding the planned strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mrs Beatrice Jedy-Agba, the Solicitor-General of the Federation, has clarified the Ministry’s position and dismissed allegations of threats. This clarification was contained in a letter addressed to the NLC’s legal counsel, Messrs Falana & Falana’s Chambers, on Monday in Abuja.

The letter, which was also copied to the National Security Adviser, Director-General of the State Security Services, and the Inspector General of Police, highlighted the Ministry’s intention to draw the attention of the NLC to a pending court order. Mrs Jedy-Agba emphasized that the Ministry did not make any threats but merely focused on the need to maintain the status quo during the absence of a restraining order.

Responding to a letter from the NLC through Falana and Falana’s Chambers, which claimed that the NLC was not in contempt of court, the Solicitor-General clarified the Ministry’s perspective. She disputed the NLC’s alleged misconstrual of the Ministry’s position and asserted that there was no threat of contempt in the Ministry’s clarification.

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Furthermore, Mrs Jedy-Agba stressed that the issue of peaceful protests and police permits were not in contention. She referred to a communique issued by the NLC’s National Executive Council, which indicated that the projected cause of action by the NLC was primarily focused on issues related to the recent fuel price hike, palliatives, and workers’ welfare.

The Solicitor-General highlighted the inappropriate nature of leading public protests concerning matters that were already before the court. She expressed concern that the NLC’s actions seemed to surpass peaceful protests and suggested an intention to disrupt the government and endanger public peace. Mrs Jedy-Agba cited statements from NLC representatives and affiliated unions, such as the Nigeria Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas Workers and the National Union of Electricity Employees, affirming their support for the strike and their efforts to disrupt the supply of fuel and electricity.

In response to these developments, Mrs Jedy-Agba emphasized that the interim court order clearly restrained the NLC from engaging in any form of industrial action. The Solicitor-General highlighted that the participation of workers in the protest would result in a restriction or delay in the performance of essential services.

She further called upon Messrs Falana & Falana’s Chambers to educate the labor unions about the distinction between peaceful protests and disruptive actions, which could be tantamount to a strike. Mrs Jedy-Agba urged them to advise their clients accordingly, emphasizing that peaceful protests should not be used as a justification to disrupt or shut down essential services.

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As the planned strike continues to generate public attention and concern, the clarification provided by Mrs Beatrice Jedy-Agba sheds light on the Ministry’s stance regarding the NLC’s proposed action. It remains to be seen how the labor unions and other stakeholders will react to this clarification and whether it will influence the outcome of the ongoing dispute over the fuel price hike and workers’ welfare.

By addressing the concerns raised by the NLC and refuting allegations of threats, the Ministry aims to provide a more accurate understanding of its position and maintain the rule of law. As the situation unfolds, it is crucial for all parties involved to engage in constructive dialogue and find a mutually beneficial resolution that prioritizes the interests of both workers and the nation as a whole.

The NLC’s planned strike has sparked a significant debate among various stakeholders in Nigeria. Supporters argue that the strike is a necessary means to address the concerns of workers and advocate for their rights, particularly in light of the recent fuel price hike. They believe that the government’s decision to increase fuel prices has placed an undue burden on the Nigerian people, especially the working class.

On the other hand, critics of the strike argue that it will only exacerbate the challenges facing the country, including the already fragile economy and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. They contend that disruptions to essential services such as electricity and fuel supply will have far-reaching consequences, affecting not only businesses but also ordinary citizens who rely on these services for their daily lives.

In response to the Solicitor-General’s letter, the NLC and its legal counsel, Falana & Falana’s Chambers, have yet to issue a formal response. However, it is expected that they will argue that peaceful protests are a legitimate form of expression and that workers have the right to voice their grievances through such means.

The NLC has a long history of organizing strikes and protests to advocate for workers’ rights and welfare. They believe that mass action is an effective way to pressure the government into addressing their concerns and implementing necessary reforms. The NLC has also called on other civil society organizations and the general public to support their cause and join the protest.

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As the planned strike date approaches, there is growing anticipation and concern about its potential impact. The government, on its part, has the responsibility to engage in meaningful dialogue with the NLC and address the underlying issues that have led to this impasse. Finding a mutually beneficial solution that addresses the concerns of workers while also considering the broader economic and social implications will be crucial in resolving the current dispute.

In the coming days, all eyes will be on the NLC and the government as they navigate this challenging situation. The outcome of their negotiations will have significant implications not only for the immediate concerns of workers but also for the overall stability and development of Nigeria.


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