FG withdraws contempt suit against Organised  Labour

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By Joan Nwagwu

The Federal Government says it has withdrawn the contempt of court proceedings against organised labour for embarking on a nationwide protest.

This is contained in a letter addressed to the lead counsel to the NLC, Falana and Falana’s Chambers and obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.

The letter dated Aug. 7 to Falana’s Chambers was signed by the Solicitor General of the Federation, Mrs  B.E. Jeddy-Agba.

NAN reports that the Federal Ministry of Justice had through the National Industrial Court (NICN), issued the leadership of organised labour summons on contempt of court for embarking on the protest.

NAN also recalls that organised labour had threatened to embark on a nation-wide strike from Aug. 14, if the Federal Government failed to withdraw its contempt of court charges.

Organised Labour had embarked on mass protest over anti-poor policies of government, especially the removal of subsidy that had brought untold hardship to Nigerians.

The letter reads: “Kindly recall the exchange of correspondence between the ministry and your office on the need for compliance with the extant court orders, restraining industrial action of any kind on the part of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress.

“The position of the ministry was informed by the need to safeguard the integrity of the court and prevent avoidable service disruption or damage to public facilities.

“Inspite of these exchanges/interventions, the labour unions on Aug. 2, proceeded with the industrial action through public pretests”.

It also said the protest led to disruption of work and the eventual pulling down of the gate of the National Assembly.

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“The foregoing, it said, prompted the ministry to initiate contempt proceedings by tiling Form 48 on the same 2nd August 2023 in accordance with Section 72 of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act and Order 9 Rule 13 of the Judgment (Enforcement) Rules.

“It is trite that issuance of Form 48 is just the starting point in contempt proceedings which will only crystalise upon the issuance of Form 49 and the consequential committal order.”

It noted that upon the intervention of President Bola Tinubu and the decision of the labour unions to call-off their industrial action after meetings with the President and leadership of the National Assembly.

“The ministry did not proceed further with the contempt proceedings, which would have required the issuance of Form 49 within two days of the issuance of Form 48.

“It is self-evident that the none-issuance of Form 49 as at Aug. 4, renders the contempt proceedings inchoate.

“You may therefore wish to advise or guide the labour unions on the practice and procedure of contempt proceedings.

“Also  particularly to the effect that the issues or concerns raised by NLC in its communique on the proceedings, have been overtaken by events,” it said. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Sadiya Hamza

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