The Federal Government has withdrawn the contempt of court proceedings against organized labor for their nationwide protest
The letter conveying this decision was addressed to NLC’s lead counsel, Falana and Falana’s Chambers, and it was acquired by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday.
The letter, dated August 7 and signed by the Solicitor General of the Federation, Mrs. B.E. Jeddy-Agba, indicated the withdrawal.
Earlier, the Federal Ministry of Justice, through the National Industrial Court (NICN), had summoned the leadership of organized labor on charges of contempt of court due to their participation in the protest.
Recall that that organized labor had threatened to initiate a nationwide strike starting from August 14 if the Federal Government didn’t retract the contempt charges.
The mass protest by Organised Labour was in response to the government’s anti-poor policies, particularly the removal of subsidies that had caused significant hardship for Nigerians.
The letter reads:
“Kindly recall the exchange of correspondence between the ministry and your office on the need for compliance with the extant court orders, restraining industrial action of any kind on the part of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress.
“The position of the ministry was informed by the need to safeguard the integrity of the court and prevent avoidable service disruption or damage to public facilities.
“Despite these exchanges/interventions, the labor unions on Aug. 2, proceeded with the industrial action through public protests”.
“It also said the protest led to disruption of work and the eventual pulling down of the gate of the National Assembly.
“The foregoing prompted the ministry to initiate contempt proceedings by filing Form 48 on the same 2nd August 2023 by Section 72 of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act and Order 9 Rule 13 of Judgement (Enforcement) Rules.
“It is trite that issuance of Form 48 is just the starting point in contempt proceedings which will only crystalize upon the issuance of Form 49 and the consequential committal order,” it added
After President Bola Tinubu’s intervention and the labor unions’ choice to end their industrial action, it was observed that due to these developments, the ministry refrained from advancing the contempt proceedings.
These proceedings would have necessitated the issuance of Form 49 within two days of the issuance of Form 48.
“It is self-evident that the non-issuance of Form 49 as of Aug. 4, renders the contempt proceedings inchoate.
“You may therefore wish to advise or guide the labor unions on the practice and procedure of contempt proceedings.
“Also, the issues or concerns raised by NLC in its communique on the proceedings have been overtaken by events.”