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The Protest Must Go On: NLC Pushes Back on Fuel Subsidy Verdict, Accuses Judiciary of Overreach

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ABUJA, Nigeria – The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, the country’s foremost labor federation, has announced it will no longer obey what it characterizes as “frivolous injunctions” issued by judges allegedly acting in concert with the executive branch.

In a strongly worded statement released on Friday, June 9, 2023, in Abuja, Comrade Joe Ajaero, President of the NLC, expressed alarm at the increasing frequency of such injunctions, which he says are aimed at curtailing the Congress’s ability to protest government policies deemed unfavorable to the workforce.

Ajaero cited a recent instance where the Honourable Justice O.Y. Anuwe issued an injunction against the NLC, restraining it from protesting the steep hike in fuel prices.

“The latest of these injunctions was the order made by Honourable Justice O.Y. Anuwe in Suit No: NICN/ABJ/158/2023 between the Federal Government of Nigeria & Anor Vs. Nigeria Labour Congress & Anor. on the 5th day of June 2023, restraining NLC from protesting against the massive increase in the pump price of PMS,” Ajaero said.

The NLC President emphasized that such injunctions violate the rights enshrined in the ILO Conventions, Trade Union Act, Trade Dispute Act, the 1999 Constitution, the African Charter on Human Rights, and other legal frameworks.

“We consider the frequency of these orders against the Congress an abuse and a violation of the pronouncement of the Supreme Court against frivolous use of ex parte.

More importantly, we consider these injunctions a violation of the extant laws aforementioned as well as an infringement of our right to lawful assembly and free speech,” he added.

Ajaero also expressed concerns over the conduct of certain judges, who he alleged were compliant and inclined to fulfill the desires of the executive by granting “black market injunctions.”

“We are sounding a note of warning that any further black market or jankara injunction will not be respected by us. To show our capacity and resolve, we will show active resistance by picketing such a court,” warned the NLC President.

The NLC has reportedly instructed its legal team to challenge the existing injunction, and Ajaero called upon both the Supreme Court and the National Judicial Council, NJC, to take corrective action against judges who issue these injunctive orders.

Ajaero further warned that when citizens lose faith in the judiciary, there is a high probability that they may resort to self-help with unpredictable consequences.

The NLC’s stance represents a critical moment for the Nigerian judiciary and democratic institutions as it highlights the tension between branches of government and the role of judiciary in safeguarding citizens’ rights.

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