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Lawyers Say el-Rufai Cannot Arrest NLC Leaders

Some senior lawyers have described the threat by Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai to arrest the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba as dictatorial and unconstitutional.

A human rights activist and lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, in an interview with The PUNCH, said El-Rufai’s action was dictatorial and despotic.

He said, “El -Rufai should not dare arrest the NLC chairman or dismiss the nurses. He has suddenly become dictatorial and despotic, reminding us of Hitler and Mussolini.

“The right to freedom of expression, movement, association, right to liberty and freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment, etc., are basic human rights guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution, and universally recognised under the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, the African Charter On Human And People’s Rights, the European Charter on Human Rights, the American Convention on Human Rights, and other international instruments.

“The right to protest without even seeking Police permission has been serially upheld by Nigerian appellate courts.”

In a similar vein, legal practitioner, Remi Olatunbora, SAN, described the declaration as an empty threat.

He said, “The right of the NLC to withdraw their services, which is what we call strike, is guaranteed under the Constitution of Nigeria and extant labour law.

“The governor’s pronouncement is an empty threat. It is as empty as it was pronounced.

“It has no legal basis and does not hold any water in law. No law enforcement agency can enforce that.

“Such pronouncement has no place in a democratic regime. Only a dictatorial regime can make such pronouncement.”

On his part, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) said the governor was misunderstanding the extent of his powers as “the Chief Executive of Kaduna State.”

According to him,  a protest is part of the rights that citizens enjoy in a democracy, so the people of Kaduna have the right to call for a strike if they believe that they are not being served well.

He stated, “Declaring the leader of the Nigeria Labour Congress wanted is misappropriation of power as a governor. It is not one of the attributes of democratic governance. Declaring people wanted for embarking on a strike action is misconceived.

“Therefore, I do not think that what the governor has done is right. The matter ought to be resolved in a court and luckily for us, El-Rufai will not be the judge.”

Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige made the appeal in a statement by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations in the Ministry, Charles  Akpan, on Tuesday.

The Punch

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