The Federal Government on Monday withdrew its contempt suit filed against Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) for organising nationwide anti-subsidy protests on August 2, 2023.
The Ministry of Justice had sued the Nigeria Labour Congress NLC and the Trade Union Congress for contempt for allegedly disobeying a court order barring them from leading the nationwide protest.
Sequel to that, the organised labour announced plans to begin a nationwide strike on August 14 as a result of the suit filed by the federal government.
The National Industry Court had stopped the organised labour from going on strike but human rights lawyer and counsel to the organised labour, Femi Falana, insisted the union could proceed on the protest.
However, the Federal Ministry, in a letter dated August 7, 2023, and addressed to the Nigeria Labour Congress through their counsel, Femi Falana SAN, said the contempt proceedings filed against the congress for embarking on a nationwide protest last Wednesday was no longer valid.
The letter, signed by the Permanent Secretary, Beatrice Jeddy-Agba, stated that the ministry filed the contempt proceedings before the interventions of the President and the National Assembly.
The letter, addressed to NLC’s counsel, Femi Falana read, “ The attention of the Federal Ministry of Justice has been drawn to the Communique issued by the Nigeria Labour Congress on 3 August 2023 wherein NC announced the suspension of its nationwide protests and criticised the contempt summons issued by the National Industrial Court (*Court”), amongst other issues.
“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 damages to public facilities.
“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.
Upon the intervention of His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed 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, this 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 4th of August 2023, renders the contempt proceedings inchoate. You may therefore wish to advise or guide the labour unions on the practice and procedure of contempt proceedings, particularly to the effect that the issues or concerns raised by NLC in its communiqué on the proceedings have been overtaken by events.” (Tribune)