NLC in veiled note accuses police of ploy to help spread MC Oluomo’s powers to national level

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in a veiled accusation has insinuated that the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) May be covertly helping an erstwhile arrow head of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Lagos, Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly called MC Oluomo, to spread his tentacles from the south-west region to the national level.

This follows the seeming gradual decimation of the national body of the NURTW.

This is as the congress, on Sunday, threatened to picket the Police Headquarters in Abuja and police stations nationwide over alleged police harassment and intimidation of union leaders if the Inspector General of Police, IGP, does not end the illegal action.

The theat by the NLC followed the sealing of the National headquarters of the NURTW and the detention of some of its leaders by the police, decrying what it described as illegal interference by the IGP in the internal affairs of the road transport union, one of NLC’s affiliates.

Ripples Nigeria reports that the NURTW has been having running battles in some states of the South-West, including Lagos, Oyo, Osun and Ondo states where their operations, including offices and properties were taken over and handed over to committees empowered to man road transport activities in those states.

In Lagos, a running battle between its then state chairman, Oluomo and the national leadership came to a head when Oluomo was suspended, leading to the banning of the union by the government in the state and the composition of Parks and Garages Committee, curiously headed by Oluomo.

Despite a pronouncement by a High Court that the operations of the Lagos State Parks and Garages Committee was illegal, the state government has refused to bulge and allow NURTW operation back in the state, an obvious indication that it is doing the bidding of Oluomo, a known strong ally of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Oluomo, according those into the know, is also interested in leading the union nationally and that the latest travails of the union may not be unconnected with a grand design to cease its leadership.

Reacting to the development, the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, in a statement on Sunday, said Nigerians recalled that the NURTW had had its lawful activities restricted and shackled in Lagos State and other South West states of Oyo, Osun, and Ondo despite the pronouncement of the courts to the contrary.

The labour congress also noted that having felt unchallenged and thus invincible, the same forces that forcefully took over the union in these states and renamed them in some as Lands and Parks seek to expand their reach nationwide.

According to the statement, some national officers of the union who went voluntarily to the Police in response to an invitation by the IGP were unlawfully detained by the Police without any discernible reason other than to clandestinely force a scuttling of a properly convened trade union programme.

Read also: PDP accuses Tinubu of being desperate to drag Nigeria into war with Niger

The statement reads in part: “Nigerians should recall that the NURTW has had their lawful activities restricted and shackled in Lagos state and other South West states of Oyo, Osun, and Ondo despite the pronouncement of the Courts to the contrary. Having felt unchallenged and thus invincible, the same forces that forcefully took over the Union in these states and renamed them in some as Lands and Parks seek to expand their reach nationwide. They seek to completely takeover the leadership of the Union which they hope to use to seize the nation’s civic space, muzzle voices of opposition and undermine democratic practices and aspirations in Nigeria.

“The NLC does not understand where the IGP derives the power to meddle in the affairs of trade unions when it is neither a Court of Law nor any other known arbiter in Industrial Disputes as stipulated in the Constitution of the federal republic. Our Laws are very clear on how industrial Disputes should be settled in Nigeria and we are sure that the IGP as the Chief Law enforcement officer is conversant with that process. We wonder why he has refused to submit himself to the supremacy of the Law, especially these time-honoured statutes and traditions.

“What is happening demonstrates a further extension of the same brutal power play at work which was used by the same actors to forcefully take over the Union which was established under the instrumentality of the Law. It is an unholy quest at expanding the hegemony of impunity originating from these same powers who may want to deploy the instrumentality of the IGP to spread this illegality around the nation. This definitely raises yet another ugly scepter in our nation’s democratic space and must be condemned by all patriots.

“We want to warn the IGP to thread with caution and stop meddling in affairs that are clearly beyond the purview of his powers. If he receives a complaint against any trade union that is carrying out its legitimate duties, the norm is to refer such matters to the Federal Ministry of Labour which have the statutory powers to intervene or apprehend such matters for arbitration but not to begin to hunt the leaders with the intention to harass and intimidate or frighten them to submit to whatever their wishes may be.

“The Federal Government which the IGP serves must insist on the prevalence of the Rule of Law and desist from any action that hinders the free operation of the levers of democracy thus capable of scuttling the nation’s democracy, especially at this time when the nation seems to be walking through a minefield. The IGP must subject each of his activities to our Laws and should avoid using the same for the purposes of achieving some clannish or narrow objectives that are not acceptable within the rarefied atmosphere of democracy.

“Nigerian workers will not fold our hands and watch the actions of the IGP scuttle the democratic culture which we have all made huge sacrifices for and worked hard to enthrone. We will not allow the emergence of the rule of the powers of brigandage over the powers of Social Dialogue. We will not allow the prevalence of the powers of brute force over the powers of sane and reasonable engagement. We will not allow the continued diminution of our nation and the remaining sound terrains that have kept us together as a people and as a country.

“The IGP should quickly hands-off from this unwarranted interference and allow other relevant institutions that are also creatures of the Law to take charge of their responsibility unless he has been able to comprehensively deal with his major responsibilities and now seek to help other agencies of government discharge theirs. It is better he keeps to the dictates of his job and allows others to stick to theirs. What he is doing is not helpful to Nigeria but can only be self-seeking or an attempt to satisfy some other interests.

“That is why the NLC calls on the IGP to deploy this energy to combating the insecurity challenges that confront Nigerians every day everywhere around the nation instead of pursuing trade union matters that are not within his jurisdiction. We would not know why the burgeoning crime rate does not bother the Police or ridding our cities of crime infestations seem to be any worry to it rather than chasing trade union leaders for incarceration. It is important that he should focus more on his job than this interference.

“If nothing is done to stop this, Nigerian workers may be forced to resume work daily in all Police Stations around the Country. We will demand the repayment of the cost incurred by the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) as a result of the actions of the IGP if we are forced to resume at the Police Headquarters and Posts around the Country.

“Nigeria belongs to all of us and as major stakeholders, we are worried that these actions may further heat up the polity and cause greater disaffection amongst the citizenry. The Civic space belongs to the people and attempting to scuttle it rings the alarm bells. We strongly frown at this and seriously want this present harassment and intimidation of trade union leaders to stop forthwith. This is unacceptable.’

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