By Ernest Chinwo
The Rivers State Government has described the reaction of the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, to the court order restraining the organised labour from embarking on its planned protest in the state, as ridiculing the judicial process and impugning the authority and integrity of the court
The state government also denied holding any labour leader captive in the Government House or anywhere else as a result of the planned strike.
The NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) had planned to embark on a protest in Rivers State today over alleged anti-labour policies of the state government.
But the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) in Lagos State on September 1 in Suit No. NICN/LA/305/2020 issued an order of interim injunction restraining the NLC and the TUC from embarking on their planned protest in Rivers State.
In a statement issued yesterday evening, the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor, said the state was aware of an audio message being circulated on the social media credited to Wabba, making “spurious, unfounded and malicious allegations against me and the Office of the Attorney-General of Rivers State in relation to the proceedings in the aforesaid suit No. NICN/LA/305/2020.”
He stated that Wabba is the third defendant in the said suit pending before the court, and that “contrary to the offensive assertion in the audio message that the Attorney-General of Rivers State ‘claimed’ to have obtained an order of interim injunction from the National Industrial Court, the truth of the matter is that the court Lagos Division, where Hon. Justice N. C. S. Ogbuanya. J in sitting as a vacation Judge, actually granted an order of interim injunction in favour of the claimant/applicant and against the defendants on September 1, 2020, in the following terms: ‘An order of interim injunction is hereby granted restraining the defendants herein either by themselves or through their servants, agents, privies, officers or otherwise howsoever called from embarking on a strike in Rivers State on September 5, 6, or 7, 2020, or any other date whether earlier or later, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction filed contemporaneously herewith.
“An order of interim injunction is hereby granted restraining the defendants either by themselves or through their servants, agents, privies, officers or otherwise howsoever from stopping, hindering, preventing, disrupting and/or interfering in any manner whatsoever with the provision of service and other works by their members in the civil and public service of the claimant/applicant pending the hearing and determination of the substantive motion on notice for interlocutory injunction already filed.”
He said the court also granted an order for substituted service through publication in two national newspapers, and which the state has carried out.
On the allegation of abducting or holding a labour leader captive, Adangor said it is utterly false, challenging the NLC president to state if any complaint has been lodged with the police against the state Attorney-General in respect of the alleged abduction.
He affirmed that the organised labour is not a state within a state but a body created by law and bound by the same law that gives its existence legal validity.
“The case of the government of Rivers State before the National Industrial Court is that the organised labour cannot declare a strike in the state without strict compliance with the conditions precedent prescribed in the Trade Disputes Act, Cap, T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and the Trade Unions Act, Cap. T14 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004,” he said, adding that the state is committed to the rule of law, and would not engage in any act of illegality in confronting “the monster of lawlessness which the organised labour now appears to epitomise.”