The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has countered the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, stating there are no legal orders—interim, interlocutory, or perpetual—from the National Industrial Court or any other court that hinder Nigerian workers from engaging in peaceful protests orchestrated by the NLC.
The NLC emphasized to the Federal Government, via the Solicitor-General, that a standing judgement supports the public’s right to protest on matters of widespread concern. This right must be freely exercised provided no illegal actions are pursued.
These assertions were made in a communication from Falana chambers to the Permanent Secretary/Solicitor-General. The letter, titled “Re-NLC in Contempt of Court,” was signed by Sam Ogala Esq. This comes in response to the upcoming organized labour protest on Wednesday, August 2, to voice opposition to the removal of the petrol subsidy and the government’s failure to introduce palliatives to offset the adverse effects of ending the subsidy payment.
The letter refutes the claims that the NLC intends to disregard the ex parte order of the National Industrial Court that prohibits industrial action or strikes pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice, dated June 5, 2023. It argued that protesting peacefully was not equivalent to an industrial action or strike and should not be treated as such.
The letter quoted a 2008 case, Inspector-General of Police v All Nigeria Peoples Party, where the court affirmed the citizens’ right to protest without requiring a police permit. It highlighted Justice Adekeye’s leading judgement, which asserted the importance of the right to protest and the existing criminal code that manages potential breaches of peace.
The letter ends by urging the Solicitor-General to advise the Nigeria Police Force to adhere to section 83(4) of the Police Establishment Act 2020. This section mandates that the police should provide security cover for notified public meetings, rallies, or processions.