The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called on the Nigerian Police to conduct a fair investigation into the recent violence that took place at the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) Abuja headquarters, which resulted in loss of life, injuries and damage of properties.
NLC also said the violence outbreak was a “regrettable and avoidable” event that would not have gotten to that point had the police and government heed its calls for the right thing to be done.
In a press statement, NLC acting president, Comrade Kabiru A. S. Minjibir, said, “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 Bola 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 emphasised the peril this illegality posed to peace and its adverse implications for our democratic traditions. Recognising its gravity, the issue was prominently featured in the agenda of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the congress on August 31. NEC members unanimously condemned the police actions, which became our second reason leading to the successful nationwide two-day warning strike on September 5 and 6.
“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.”
On the detention of leaders of the NURTW, the congress said, “NLC is also alarmed by the police’s handling of the matter. 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 on 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.”
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