The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has lamented a violent outbreak that occurred at the National Headquarters of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Abuja.
The NLC in a statement signed by its Acting President, Comrade Kabiru Minjibir on Friday in Abuja, stated that it raised an alarm regarding the actions of the Police targeting the legitimate leadership of the Union
Comrade Minjibir pointed out that the NLC implored the Police leadership to reassess their actions and align them with the legal framework and international standards that govern industrial relations, lamenting the regrettable and entirely avoidable outbreak of violence.
The NLC called for a speedy release of the legitimately elected leaders of the NURTW and an in-depth investigation into the crisis.
The statement reads: “The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) deeply laments the regrettable and entirely avoidable outbreak of violence at the National Secretariat of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW). This unfortunate event resulted in loss of life, injuries, and extensive property damage.
“In August, we raised alarm regarding the actions of the Police targeting the legitimate leadership of the Union, and the hidden motives behind wresting control for the benefit of a select few who invoked the name of the President of Nigeria, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu. We implored the Police leadership to reassess their actions and align them with the legal framework and international standards that govern industrial relations.
“Regrettably, instead of heeding our plea, the Police extended their support in the unlawful occupation of the Union’s national headquarters, in stark violation of established legal and industrial relations norms. The democratically elected leadership of the Union was forcibly ousted while the area was cordoned off by the Police.
“We emphasized the peril this illegality posed to peace and its adverse implications for our democratic traditions. Recognizing its gravity, the issue was prominently featured in the agenda of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the Congress on August 31st. NEC members unanimously condemned the Police’s actions, which became our second reason leading to the successful nationwide 2-Day Warning Strike on the 5th and 6th of this month.
“Despite our forewarnings, the Police persisted in their unlawful intervention, providing cover for those imposing themselves on the Union. We engaged in discussions with the Police leadership, reaching an understanding on a roadmap towards peace to safeguard lives and property. It is disheartening that our concerns were not heeded and the roadmap unimplemented.
“Had our advice been heeded, this tragic incident could have been averted. Lives could have been spared, properties safeguarded, and injuries avoided. We are left bewildered as to how such an incident could occur under Police presence unless there are undisclosed motives.
“The NLC is also alarmed by the Police’s handling of the matter. Our investigations suggest undue favoritism by the State in enforcing peace. We are perturbed to learn that the democratically elected leaders of the Union are being detained while the other parties have been discreetly released. Justice demands equal treatment in conflicts of this nature.
“We urgently call upon the Police authorities to promptly release the democratically elected Union leaders from detention and conduct a fair investigation into the violence. Our nation cannot afford to entertain any semblance of impunity or bias, especially at this critical juncture. Let us refrain from exacerbating an already precarious situation with actions that may be construed as partiality towards illegality.
“The NLC holds the State and the Police accountable for their inaction and unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of the Union. Established statutory avenues for resolution exist and should have been followed, but it appears that authorities are disinclined to adhere to them. Disregarding democratic rights and practices inevitably leads to such regrettable incidents, which could have been avoided through steadfast adherence to democratic principles.
“Once more, we implore the Police to veer away from this unsustainable course and adhere to the previously agreed roadmap to prevent further escalation of the crisis. In these critical times, those entrusted with public confidence must exercise prudence, and those responsible for upholding our laws must refrain from being perceived as spearheading an assault against them.”