By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abuja
The organized labour has accused Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike of planning to unleash thugs on workers over the proposed protest on Tuesday.
The organised labour in a statement signed by the President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, on Sunday, alleged that Governor Wike has mobilized two local government councils around Port Harcourt, the state capital to engage armed thugs against the workers.
Labour said any attempt to disrupt the proposed rally on Tuesday would not only be another frontal attack against the Nigerian Constitution by the Governor but would also be a continuation of the alleged Governor’s Nyesom reign of impunity and an ill-conceived ploy to exterminate Organized Labour in Rivers State.
It advised the governor instead of ‘wasting the state resources in the prosecution of a needless war’ against innocent workers, to commit his time and the state resources to attend to the industrial concerns of the workers in Rivers State.
The state read in part: “Fellow Nigerians, we have received very credible information that the Rivers State Governor, Mr Nyesom Wike has mobilized two local governments councils around Port Harcourt metropolis to engage armed thugs who would be used to unleash violence on workers during our protest scheduled for Tuesday, September 8, 2020, in Port Harcourt.
“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 an ill-conceived ploy to exterminate Organized Labour in Rivers State.
“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 resources in the prosecution of a needless war against innocent workers, we urge Governor Nyesom Wike to commit his time and the state resources to attend to the industrial concerns of the workers in Rivers State.”
Continuing, labour said,” 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 the new national minimum wage, the 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 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!”