NLC Pickets Zimbabwean Embassy in Abuja

By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Friday blocked the entrance to the Zimbabwean Embassy in Abuja, protesting against alleged unlawful arrest and detention of labour leaders in that country.

The congress demanded the immediate and unconditional release of workers and labour leaders who were arrested while protesting the increase in the prices of fuel in the country.

The President of the NLC Ayuba Wabba, who led the workers, said if the Zimbabwean government fails to release the union leaders, workers across the world will be mobilised to shut down the Zimbabwean embassies across the world.

Wabba, who is also the president of the International Trade Union Congress (ITUC), asked the United Nations to invoke relevant international conventions to protect the rights of workers in Zimbabwe.

He said ITUC and the NLC will petition the International Court of Justice to protest the violation of human rights in that country and the violence that followed the peaceful protest by the workers.

Wabba also asked the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the African Union to invoke relevant labour conventions in dealing with the issue in Zimbabwe, adding that it was an irony that the same government which the labour union fought for is the one hunting down labour leaders.

He said organised labour in Nigeria will not hesitate to seal off the embassy in Abuja if the Zimbabwean government failed to adhere to their calls and release the detained labour leaders in the country.

He urged the Zimbabwean Government to release detained leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and 39 others arrested for participating in protest march over the fuel price increase.

Wabba said that NLC was annoyed at the ugly incidents that have trailed the mass protests in Zimbabwe, adding that the protest was occasioned by the sudden increase in pump prices of petroleum products by the government of Zimbabwe.

He said: “The protest is against what many Zimbabweans perceive as insensitive policy choices by the government of Zimbabwe. The Nigerian working class family is sad that what should have passed as a civil action in democratic climes was met with disproportionate use of force by the Zimbabwean military and security forces.

“The brazen show of force culminated in widespread suppression and violation of the fundamental human rights of ordinary Zimbabweans, who were exposed to an orgy of violence, bloodshed and acts of state cruelty.

“The NLC is particularly concerned about allegations of home raids, killings, rapes, robbery and physical assaults against workers, women, children and civilians generally during the so-called crackdown on protests by the Zimbabwean security forces.”