‘Protest Amounts to Gross Contempt, Affront to Court’ – FG Warns NLC Against Nationwide Protest

Lateef Fagbemi, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice has warned the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) against its scheduled nationwide protest.

In a letter dated February 24 and directed to Femi Falana, the NLC lawyer, the AGF stated that the federal government has substantially complied with the items outlined in the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed with the union.

Fagbemi emphasized that proceeding with the planned protest would constitute contempt of court due to a restraining order issued by a national industrial court, which remains in effect.

He highlighted, “Upon the submission of grievances to the court, parties in the suit cannot resort to public protests over the same issues, as such conduct amounts to gross contempt and affront to the institution of our courts of law.”

Furthermore, Fagbemi pointed out that the proposed nationwide protest violates the pending interim injunctive order issued in a specific case, restraining both NLC and TUC from embarking on any industrial action or strike.

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“Therefore, the proposed nationwide protest action in all ramifications is in clear violation of the pending interim injunctive order granted in SUIT NO: NICN/ABJ/158/2023- FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA & ANOR V. NIGERIAN LABOUR CONGRESS & ANOR on 5th June 2023 restraining both NLC and TUC from embarking on any industrial action or strike of any nature.

“It is not in doubt that the planned protest is designed to compel government to accede to the demands of organized labour, therefore, such action qualifies as an industrial action which comes within the ambit of the restraining order.

“I wish to note that government has substantially and reasonably complied with the items in the MOU and it is only appropriate and equitable for organized labour to engage more with government to ensure the full implementation of same, especially in areas that have been inhibited by unforeseen challenges.

“May I, therefore, request that you kindly implore and enjoin your clients to refrain from self-help by shelving the proposed protests which is antithetical to the mediatory engagements leading to the execution of the MOU, tantamount to undermining subsisting restraining court order and occasioning disruption of public service, order and safety.”