The Federal Government on Wednesday slammed a contempt proceeding against the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) over alleged defiance of an order restraining the Unions from embarking on industrial action.
The “notice of consequences of disobedience to order of the court”, also called “Form 48”, was filed before the National Industrial Court in Abuja on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, NLC issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to reverse all “anti-poor” and “insensitive” policies.
The policies, the Union said, included the recent hike in the price of petrol, and the sudden increase in public school fees, among others.
But, the Federal Government said the Union was restrained by an order of the National Industrial Court from embarking on any industrial action or strike regarding the removal of the petrol subsidy.
Although, Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer, defended the Union, arguing that the strike action did not translate into contempt of court and that peaceful protests were within its fundamental right, Beatrice Jedy-Agba, solicitor-general of the federation, said the planned strike and the protests could not be termed as peaceful as they were intended to “ground the government by endangering public peace, instilling fear in the masses”.
She said the subject matter which was the major cause of the action was subjudice, adding that parties in the suit were expected to maintain the status quo until the hearing and determination of the suit.
Ruling on an ex-parte motion filed by the Federal Government, Olufunke Anuwe, the presiding judge, granted an order restraining the NLC and TUC from embarking on any planned industrial action or strike pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed by the Federal Government.