NLC Fumes, Vows To Shut Down Economy If Attacked During Nationwide Protest

ABUJA. – The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has warned the government against attacking members and protesters during its planned nationwide protest.

According to the NLC, any attack on their procession will lead to a total shutdown of the economy.

The NLC had announced a nationwide protest scheduled for February 27 and 28, to kick against the economic challenges facing Nigerians.

The decision came after a 14-day ultimatum issued to the Nigerian Government regarding the widespread hardship.

But the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, (SAN) have urged the NLC to shelve its proposed nationwide protest.

Similarly, the Trade Union Congress has warned that the planned protest being championed by the NLC may lead to anarchy due to the tense nature of the country amid current hardship and prevailing hunger in the land.

The government warned that the NLC would be in contempt of court if the planned protest was held. But a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana has written to Fagbemi, noting that NLC would not be in contempt of court over its planned nationwide protest.

In the letter dated February 24, 2024, and addressed to Fagbemi, Falana said, “We submit, without any fear of contradiction, that the proposed public protest of the NLC is not contemptuous of the two ex parte orders of the National Industrial Court. In particular, the issue of contempt does not arise as the NLC has challenged the jurisdiction of the National Industrial Court to entertain the substantive case.”

A statement signed by the NLC President on Sunday insisted that the protest would go ahead as planned and warned the government not to disrupt the mass action.

It alleged that the state had “perfected plans to attack our peaceful rallies across the country”.

It said, “One of the groups being primed to attack our peaceful rallies is by a nebulous name, Nigeria Civil Society Forum (NCSF).

“NCSF is one of the emergency groups put together, funded, promoted and remote-controlled by government to cause violence against our members for electing to peacefully protest against the hunger in the land.

“We would want the State to know that the solution to our horrible economic situation and hunger is not by suppressing peaceful dissent or inflicting violence on peacefully protesting citizens as the government did in Minna and other cities where its agents tear-gassed and beat up women before locking them up for raising their voice against hunger. It does not lie in the deployment of State-sponsored terror. The pangs of hunger cannot be cowed by bullets or tear gas.

“In light of this, we at the Nigeria Labour Congress and civil society allies are moving ahead with our protest rallies against economic hardship and insecurity in line with the decision of the National Executive Council.

“As citizens, we have a fundamental right to peaceful protest and history bears us witness that our protests are always peaceful except in instances of State- engineered violence.

“In light of this, we advise the State to put on its thinking cap and find solutions to the pains it continues to cause the people instead of further dehumanising them.

“However, if it is irrevocably set on the path of violence against us and other peace- loving Nigerians, it will be making a costly mistake because if we are attacked there will be a total shut down via withdrawal of services by workers. Let no one be deceived, we and other deprived Nigerians cannot easily be intimidated

“Lest those in power now who may have forgotten be reminded, we faced a more resourceful and resilient adversary in order to have democracy. All we are saying now is that; let there be food for the people, let the people live in safety, let the people live a life of dignity devoid of suffocating IMF/World Bank economic policies.

“Once again we advise those waiting in the wings to unleash violence on us that this is not about the NLC but about Nigerians who are saying “enough is enough”, about a people who have resolved not to be further pushed into the pit of misery and hopelessness, while a few live in obscene luxury at our collective expense.”

The NLC also called the “attention of the international human rights body and the governments of the African Union and the United Nations that the right of the people to peacefully protest and demand for freedom from economic slavery and hardship is being threatened by the Nigerian State”.

“We however remain resolute, determined and prepared to express our pain and grief in a peaceful manner as Nigerians come 27th and 28th of February 2024,” Ajaero added.

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