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Nigeria Labour Congress Vows to Defy ‘Black Market’ Court Order, Goes Ahead with Fuel Subsidy Protests

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ABUJA, Nigeria – the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, on Wednesday, August 2, 2023, carried on with its peaceful protest despite a court order sought by the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Jeddy Agba.

The Secretary-General of the NLC, Emmanuel Ugboaja, along with counsel Femi Falana, SAN, blasted Agba for obtaining what they called a “black market” court order to halt the labor center’s demonstration.

Addressing the protesters at the National Assembly, Ugboaja noted that their decision to pause at the Ministry of Justice was to ensure that “Agba got a rejuvenation” that would enable her to understand the “law.”

The drama began with a war of words between Agba, the NLC, and Falana following the court order obtained by Agba.

Through various press releases, Agba emphasized that disobedience to the court order would amount to contempt of court by the NLC.

Falana, however, fired back on behalf of his clients, asserting that the order did not prevent the labor center from embarking on peaceful protests.

The NLC’s taunting of Agba has escalated, with the labor union describing her court order as a “black market” order, implying that it was obtained illegally.

“Her advice became that of Ahitophel in the Bible… So comrades, we are expecting in a short while that the leadership of the National Assembly will come and see genuine Nigerians with a new credential,” Ugboaja told the gathered crowd.

The protest and ensuing legal skirmish come at a time of increasing tensions between labor unions and the Nigerian government, with issues of workers’ rights and economic policies at the forefront of the dispute.

Agba has not responded to requests for comment as of the reporting time, and it remains unclear how the government will respond to the NLC’s continued defiance.

Legal experts in the country are split on the issue, with some siding with the NLC’s interpretation of the court order and others decrying what they see as a lack of respect for the judiciary.

The situation has ignited a broader debate about the balance between the right to protest and the rule of law in Nigeria, a nation often grappling with governance, transparency, and human rights challenges.

As the dust settles from Wednesday’s demonstration, what remains clear is that the lines have been drawn, with neither side showing signs of backing down.

The standoff between the NLC and the Federal Ministry of Justice may yet serve as a litmus test for democratic freedoms in a country striving to foster dialogue and uphold the principles of justice.

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