Cash Scarcity: Ngige Moves To Avert NLC’s Nationwide Strike
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, Monday moved swiftly to avert the impending nationwide strike of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, billed to commence on Wednesday.
Recall that the NLC had on Wednesday last week directed all its branches across the country and the affiliate unions to embark on mobilisation of members for the proposed strike due to the scarcity of naira notes that has caused untold hardships to Nigerians.
It threatened to embark on the industrial action, if the cash crunch, fuel scarcity and electricity tariff increase were not addressed.
The NLC also advised its members to stockpile food stuffs, saying that it will occupy all branches of the Central Bank on Nigeria, CBN, nationwide and its headquarters from Wednesday.
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However, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Ngige in a bid to stop the NLC from paralysing economic activities at the nation’s apex bank, intervened in the dispute between labour and the CBN over the latter’s Naira Redesign Policy, which caused a cash crunch in the country.
In response to the strike threat, Ngige in a statement by Olajide Oshundun, Director Press in the ministry invited the leadership of the Congress and the CBN management to a meeting in his office on Monday, to resolve their differences.
The ten-man delegation of the NLC was led by the President, Comrade Joe Ajaero and the General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja while the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele was accompanied by two Deputy Governors, Kingsley Obiora (Economic Policy) and Ade Shonubi (Organised Private Sector).
READ ALSO: [JUST IN] Cash Scarcity: NLC, CBN Meet In Abuja
According to the statement, Ngige in his opening remarks, refuted the allegation of the NLC that his Ministry did nothing about the matter.
He said on receiving the letter from NLC, he forwarded same to the CBN Governor before travelling out of the country for an International Labour Organisation (ILO) Governing Board meeting and directed the Permanent Secretary and Trade Union Services and Industrial Relations Department to follow-up.
He maintained that his Ministry took the necessary step by sending the letter to CBN Governor who received the letter and assured that action would be taken.
On his part, the CBN Governor, Emefiele said when he received the letter from the Labour Ministry, he called the President of NLC to brief him on steps taken to alleviate the sufferings of the masses and equally made appointment and had a fruitful discussion with NLC president.
He said large volume of funds were made available to the deposit money banks and they were directed to open their branches on Saturdays and Sundays and that they complied under strict supervision by the CBN.
According to Emefiele, following the steps taken Nigerians have been enjoying their money.
Earlier, Comrade Ajaero said they only got a reply to their second letter to the ministry and subsequently, an invitation to the meeting.
He said they no longer envisage any problem, since CBN has started sending cash to the banks and Nigerians were now accessing their money, acknowledging that meetings has been taking place in the spirit of good dialogue.
He, however, urged the CBN to improve on their services, regretting the information gap created in the implementation of the Naira Redesign.
READ ALSO: NLC Protests: CBN To Flood Banks With Old Naira Notes
He said: “NLC could not have stopped CBN from taking good decisions and implementing them in the interest of the nation. If stakeholders were invited and briefed on the policy, when the people complain, NLC would explain everything to them. But in this case, the CBN did it alone.
Moreover, it is a wrong time for administering such a national policy.”
He assured that the National Executive Committee (NEC) of NLC will meet tomorrow Tuesday 28th of March, 2023 where members from states and Local Government Areas are expected to report on availability of money, after which a decision will be taken on the strike.
The Minister, however, assured all that whether the NLC is embarking on dispute of right or dispute of Interest, the dispute has been apprehended and can only result to more dialogue and not strike.
The Minister thanked all for honouring the invitation.
Court Admits In Evidence Two Video Clips Supporting Obi’s Petition
The Presidential Election Petition Court admitted in evidence two video clips tendered by the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, in aid of his petition challenging the conduct and outcome of the February 25 presidential election.
At the resumed hearing on Friday evening, the petitioners, through their counsel, Jubril Okutekpa, SAN, informed the court that they had subpoenaed Channels Television to produce the recordings contained in two flash drives.
Okutekpa disclosed that two separate subpoenas, dated May 30 and June 6, were served on the TV station, which he said sent one of its staff members, to tender the requested evidence.
Justice Haruna Tsammani-led’s five-member panel admitted the subpoenas in evidence and marked them as Exhibits PBH-1 and PBH-2.
One of the flash drives is said to carry video clips of an interview that the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mahmoud Yakubu granted before the general elections, where he assured that the results of the election would be electronically transmitted in real-time.
READ ALSO: Presidential Tribunal: Peter Obi Tenders Results Of 8 More States In evidence
The other contains a press conference by a national commissioner of the commission, Festus Okoye, who reiterated the commitment of the body to electronically transmit the results.
In a move to present the content of the video clips in the open court, a senior reporter and editor at Channels TV, Lucky Obese-Alawode, was summoned to the witness box.
However, the respondents in the petition vehemently opposed the move by the petitioners.
Counsel to President Bola Tinubu, Akin Olujinmi, SAN, queried the competence of the witness on the grounds that his statement was not filed alongside the petition.
Relying on Paragraphs 4 (5) and (6) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act 2022, Tinubu’s lawyer argued that the law is clear that a petition must be filed within 21 days after the declaration of the result of an election.
READ ALSO: JUST IN: ‘I Must be President Of Nigeria’ – Peter Obi Insists
He contended that the petitioners ought to have attached all the necessary documents as well as the list of witnesses they would call in support of their case at the time the petition was filed.
“A petition which fails to comply shall not be accepted, that is what the law says. My lords, it was after the proceeding started today that the statement of this witness was served on us.
“This is over three months after the declaration of the result of the election was made.
“This witness was not listed by the petitioners, and his statement was not attached to the petition. To that extent, he is not a competent witness who can testify before this court,” Tinubu’s lawyer insisted.
He contended that the petitioners were aware that they would rely on the said video recordings, at the time they filed the petition, yet did not attach it to the list of their documents.
Aligning with the disapproval by Olujimi, SAN, the INEC, through its lawyer, Kemi Pinhero, SAN, argued that Obi and LP should have listed the proposed evidence in their petition.
However, counsel for the petitioners, Okutekpa, SAN, contended that the witness was competent enough to testify as the subpoena was an order of the court that he had no command over.
The objections, notwithstanding, the panel admitted the two flash drives in evidence and marked them as Exhibits PBH-3 and PBH-4.
READ ALSO: Presidential Tribunal: Obi Tenders 136 Exhibits From Lagos, Edo, 4 Other States
Again, when the counsel to the petitioners applied for the contents of the flash drives to be played in the open court, the respondents disagreed except for the electoral commission which was indifferent.
Olujimi maintained that his client was not served with any copy of the flash drive.
He further stated that playing the video clips without his clients’ foreknowledge of their content could rob them of the right to a fair hearing.
He said, “This case is not hide and seek. We are entitled to be served with a copy so that we can know the content and be able to prepare. Until we are served, we will oppose allowing it to be played.”
On his part, the counsel for the All Progressives Congress, Solomon Umoh, SAN, said it would amount to an ambush for the petitioners to play the content of the flash drives without first serving the same on the respondents.
Ruling on the matter, the chairman of the five-man panel, Justice Tsammani, held that the position of the respondents is not prejudiced against playing the video clips but on their non-service beforehand.
However, for time constraints, Tsammani adjourned the matter to Saturday afternoon, June 10, for the video clips to be played in the open court.
10th NASS: South-West Caucus Writes PDP, Demands Minority Leader Position
Members-elect of the House from the South-West geopolitical zone on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party have demanded the position of Minority Leader in the coming 10th National Assembly.
The PDP caucus urged the national leadership of the opposition party to take the position from the South-South to the South-West.
The South-West caucus made the demand in a letter to the National Working Committee of the PDP, through the acting National Chairman of the PDP, Umar Damagum, dated June 9, 2023, a copy of which our correspondent obtained on Friday.
It was titled ‘Appeal for Your Intervention on the Zoning of the Position of Minority Leader in the 10th Assembly of House of Representatives.’
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The members-elect wrote, “We, the undersigned, being elected members of the House of Representatives from the South-West zone of the Federal Republic of Nigeria wish to respectfully invite Your Excellency to intervene on the issue of the zoning of the Minority Leader in the 10th Assembly, which is due for inauguration on Tuesday 13th June, 2023.
“Your Excellency will note that the position of the Minority Leader in the 8th and 9th Assembly of the House of Representatives was occupied by the Rt. Hon. Leo Ogor and Rt. Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, respectively, who were both from the South-South zone of the country. This is a cumulative period of eight successive years.
“We wish to also draw your attention to an agreement among members-elect of the minority caucus of the House of Representatives that the position of the Minority Leader should be ceded to the Southern part of the country for the next Assembly. It is, therefore, our considered view that in the interest of fairness, equity and justice, the South-West should be duly considered to fill this position of Minority Leader in the 10th Assembly of the House of Representatives. Apart from fulfilling the core values of inclusiveness and justice which our Party is noted for, this will also greatly boost the morale of our party members and help in the strengthening of our party in the zone and the country at large.
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“We assure Your Excellency and the entire leadership of our continuous loyalty and commitment to the growth, stability and progress of the Peoples Democratic Party. We thank you most sincerely for your support and pray that the Almighty God continues to guide you in the discharge of your responsibilities. Please, see the attached list of signatories to this very important request.”
NLC Vows To Fight Against “Black Market” Court Injunctions
The Nigeria Labour Congress, Friday night said it would no longer respect “black market” court injunctions. The congress said this following a recent court injunction obtained by the Federal Government to stop the organised labour from going on a strike to protest the removal of fuel subsidy.
The union in a statement signed by its national president, Joe Ajaero said, “We at the Nigeria Labour Congress are concerned by the frequent issuance of ex-parte injunctions restraining us from lawfully protesting against negative policies of government or employers in exercise of our right as contained in the provisions of ILO Conventions, Trade Union Act, Trade Dispute Act, the 1999 Constitution, the African Charter on Human Rights and other legal instruments.
“The latest of these injunctions was the order made by Honourable Justice O.Y. Anuwe in Suit No: NICN/ABJ/158/2023 between the Federal Government of Nigeria & Anor Vs. Nigeria Labour Congress & Anor. on the 5th day of June 2023 restraining NLC from protesting against the massive increase in the pump price of pms. We consider the frequency of these orders against the Congress an abuse and a violation of the pronouncement of the Supreme Court against frivolous use of ex parte.
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“More importantly, we consider these injunctions a violation of the extant laws aforementioned as well as an infringement of our right to lawful assembly and free speech.We are similarly concerned by the conduct of pliant Judges who often bend backward to accommodate the whims and caprices of the executive branch of government by way of granting frivolous injunctions which we shall hereinafter refer to as black market injunctions.
“We must warn that black market injunctions constitute inherent and present danger to the image of the judiciary as the judiciary risks being ignored. Given our experience, the greatest threat to the judiciary comes from within the judiciary by way of some compromised Judicial Officers.
“We are sounding a note of warning that any further black market or jankara injunction will not be respected by us. To show our capacity and resolve, we will show active resistance by picketing such a court.
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“We are also letting the public know that we have taken precipitate steps to vacate the extant injunction in question by briefing our lawyers.
“We wish to warn that when the citizenry lose faith in the judiciary, the probability of resorting to self-help could be quite high with unpredictable consequences.In light of these, we are calling on the Supreme Court and indeed NJC to speedily deal with erring Judges who issue frivolous injunctions.”
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