The Nigeria Police Force has cautioned the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Nigerian Trade Union (TUC) following their planned protest and strike action over electricity tariff and fuel price hike.
This followed after the labour leaders threatened to embark on a nationwide strike on Monday, September 28, 2020, if the Federal Government fails to avert the hikes, despite the two court orders warning them and their associates from continuing with the strike.
Consequently, the police promised to enforce the law if they continue with the planned protest. While reacting to a query regarding the strike, the Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba said, “What does the law say in this circumstance? We would enforce the law. That is the only thing I can say.”
Nevertheless, lawyers have argued that the police lack the power to deal with the issue. The Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Chino Obiagwu said the police could not confer on themselves the duty to enforce the court order stopping the labour unions from going ahead with the strike.
“The court order, according to media report, is about NLC going on strike, it has nothing to do with protest. The court did not say citizens should not go out to protest, it said the labour should not go on strike. So, it is a trade dispute. It is not a criminal matter.
“The police have no business in trade disputes. It is for the Nigerian government to go to court to obtain an order against whoever they believe has disobeyed the court order,” he said. Obiagwu further noted that the only way to impose a court judgment “is to approach the court for the issuance of Form 48 and Form 49 and proceed judicially.”
Additionally, another lawyer and activist, Inibehe Effiong also stated that the police do not have the power to stop the labour from protesting, adding that no court could have issued any order to stop any Nigerian from protesting.
“I do not think any court in Nigeria can give an injunction against people from protesting. That will be an affront to the constitution. If by Monday the police or the State Security Services say they are acting in furtherance to the order of the court to stop members of the labour movement from coming out to get their members to protest the hike in pump price and electricity tariff, it will be a flagrant attack on the constitution.
“There is no institution in Nigeria that can stop Nigerians from exercising their rights that have been granted them by the constitution.”