NIGERIA Labour Congress (NLC) has revealed fresh plans by Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, to unleash hired thugs against workers who are billed to participate in a joint mass protest being organised by both the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) scheduled to hold in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital on Tuesday. NLC made the revelation in a press release signed by its Comrade Ayuba Wabba, made available to National Record on Sunday.
The NLC said it received very credible information that Governor Wike “has mobilized two local government councils around Port Harcourt metropolis to engage armed thugs under the guise of putting up a counter protest to the workers’ protest billed for Tuesday, September 8, 2020 in Port Harcourt. The plan is to unleash violence on workers during our protest.”
Comrade WabbaWhile stating that workers are no longer strangers to the violent predilection of Governor Wike, the NLC stressed that workers will however not be deterred by the threat of hired thugs of the state government to disrupt the protest rally.
“If Mr. Nyesom Wike goes through with his diabolical plans, it would not be the first. Nigerians would recall that on the 27th of August 2020, the State Executive Council meeting of the Rivers State Council of the NLC was violently disrupted by hundreds of thugs who openly boasted that they were sent by Governor Nyesom Wike to disrupt the meeting. Nigerians would also recall that earlier on the night of July 27, 2020, some armed hoodlums ransacked the sealed Secretariat of the NLC and vandalized equipment and installation worth millions of naira. Up till now, no single arrest has been made on that incident. Till date, workers are still looking for the kidnapped JUSUN Chairman in Rivers State.
“We wish to reiterate that any attempt to disrupt our rally come Tuesday September 8, 2020 would not only be another frontal attack against the Nigerian Constitution by Governor Wike but would also be a continuation of Governor Nyesom Wike’s reign of impunity and ill-conceived ploy to exterminate Organized Labour in Rivers State,” the NLC stated.
Comrade Wabba warned Governor Wike that if any worker is harmed in the course of the protest come Tuesday, September 8, 2020, Nigerian workers as well as the international labour community would hold him personally accountable as the chief security officer of the state.
Wabba admonished Governor Wike to instead of resorting to violence against innocent workers commit his time and the state’s resources to addressing the concerns behind workers agitation.
He said: “The right to peaceful assembly and protest is not just a Constitutional Right as provided for and guaranteed by Section 40 of Nigeria’s Constitution but is also a fundamental Universal Human Rights protected by international treaties signed up to by Nigeria.
“We wish to send a final warning to Mr. Nyesom Wike that in the event that any harm comes to any worker on September 8, 2020, Nigerian workers and the international labour community would hold him personally to account, after all, he remains the Chief Security Officer of Rivers State.
“Instead of wasting the state’s resources in the prosecution of a needless war against innocent workers, we urge Governor Nyesom Wike to commit his time and the state’s resources to attend to the industrial concerns of workers in Rivers State.
“These concerns include the payment of outstanding salary arrears he deliberately refused to pay workers in the state especially to teachers and healthcare workers, promotion arrears since 2015, payment of pension and gratuity to retired workers in the state since 2015, issuing of official circular to effect the payment of the new national minimum wage, conclusion of the negotiation for consequential wages adjustment arising from the new national minimum wage, remittance of withheld check off dues deductions to unions in the state, unsealing of Rivers NLC Secretariat, the withdrawal of trumped up charges against labour leaders in Rivers State and cessation of harassment and assault on workers in the state.
“The foregoing demands are in line with workers’ rights as enshrined and guaranteed by Chapter Two of Nigeria’s Constitution, relevant sections of the Section 5(3) of the Labour Act, Section 17 of the Trade Union Act and Articles 1 – 4 of Convention 87 on the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize and Articles 1 – 4 of the Convention 98 on the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
“A stitch in time may still save nine! A word is enough for the wise!”