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Labour Issues Attack Order Against Ngige …‘Workers Can’t Blackmail Me Over Kokori’

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The Organised Labour, yesterday, declared total war against the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige over the attack by suspected thugs on union members that protested in his private residence in Abuja, last Wednesday.
Labour, in its resolution read by the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba directed workers to attack the labour minister and any member of his family anywhere they were sighted.
Briefing journalists at the Labour House, the organised said that instruction had been given to workers at airports to attack Ngige and members of his family when sighted, adding that the minister had been reported to national and international labour organizations.
Wabba said that labour was mobilized for a national protest that would take place in Abuja on Monday.
“We are coming prepared for him. The fundamental right of people to protest and assemble is sacrosanct. The minister tried to undermine the rights of workers. His son attacked the workers.
“Anywhere and everywhere himself or members of his family is seen by workers, even at the airport where we have our workers, he should be attacked.
“We have formally reported to security agencies and given them the police and the DSS.”
But briefing State House correspondents, Ngige said he would not be blackmailed by the NLC, insistence that ex-labour leader, Frank Kokori, be allowed to head the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).
He has, therefore, said there will be no further distractions on the NSITF board as a new date was going to be fixed immediately for inauguration.
Ngige accused the Nigeria Labour Congress President, Ayuba Wabba of equating himself to President Muhammadu Buhari because he answers president of NLC, and sees the NLC as the secondary arm of government.
According to him, the provisions of Section 4(a) of the NSITF Act is very clear on the sole responsibility of the Minister of Labour and Employment to nominate a neutral, fit and proper person for the approval of the president for the chairmanship of the board.
He added that Kokori was not nominated because he is not neutral.
President Muhammadu Buhari had last month replaced Kokori with Austin Enajemo-Isire, a Chartered Accountant, professional Insurance Executive, and Banker.
Speaking on the allegation that he sent thugs to attack workers at his house in Asokoro, the minister described the report as misleading and unfortunate, insisting that NLC led by, Wabba, were hooligans who he was going to sue for arson.
Ngige alleged that Wabba led people to his to his private residence at 4:30am on Wednesday morning and blocked both the entrance to his house and that of his neighbour with two tankers laden with petrol.
He said the workers did not only succeed in traumatizing the occupants of both houses which included children, they also succeeded in preventing his neighbour and his wife from doing their business for the day as they were presented from leaving their home.
Ngige said: “Well, I just read the dailies today and I saw that story. It is a very fortunate misleading story because the scenario that emerged yesterday (Wednesday) was that I was woken up at 5am by my wife who reported to me that the security men were having problems with some strange fellows at the gate of the house. And that some people were also on the walls of my home that they arrived there by 4:30am.
“When the security people accosted them, they discovered that it was the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress himself that came physically with two tankers, one laden with petroleum, the second was half empty. One was put at the gate of my house and the second at the gate of my neighbour’s house.
“When I heard the story it was very strange. When I looked from upstairs I saw that the tankers were actually blocking the entrance to my house. I came down and asked for the chief detail who told me the whole story. And it emerged that they even had a scuffle with the president of the NLC when they were struggling for the key to the tanker.
“So, I went back and made some calls to the Commissioner of Police FCT, Director SSS and also the Federal Road Safety to see if they could move the vehicles.
“Picketing does not mean that you go to peoples’ private residence because you don’t know who occupies there. For example in my home, my wife, my children and the children of my domestic staff and security personnel were trapped.
“My neighbour, his wife and children couldn’t go out. It is obstruction; it is against the law of the country. Then putting a tanker with petrol is arson, the place can be caught on fire, the entire street could have engulfed on fire. I don’t know what to say.
“That is not trade unionism that is hooliganism. I have been preaching that you cannot exchange hooliganism for trade unionism. Trade unionism means you dialogue, you discuss, you talk. That is why we call it social dialogue because you must continue to talk if you are government you continue to talk, if you are Labour you continue to talk with your employer and if you are employers you continue engaging them.
“So, I was surprised to read about thugs and people hospitalised, people beaten. I have tried to do some investigations and enquiries and from my preliminary enquiry and the reports I got, it looks like the NLC people disagreed with the people they brought to my house. I understand that they were contracted to work till 10am which is council time, the aim being to obstruct me from going to council. I left my house at 8 o’clock, a friend picked me up and I was able to make it to council.
“So, I am very distraught, my family is traumatised, the people in my house are traumatised, my domestic staff with families are traumatised, even my neighbour and his wife couldn’t do their business for the day. Those tankers were removed around 6pm.”
Asked if he was planning to take any action, the minister said: “my neighbour said he is going to take legal action. I will also take legal action, illegal actions are actionable, and nobody is above the law.
“Their grouse is the inauguration of the NSITF board. We had fixed the date for April 18th and they invaded the place with thugs and disrupted the function. We had postponed the function and said we were going to fix another date for inauguration but since then, they have been maligning my character and integrity because I am the Labour minister.
“And they forget that according to the International Labour Organization (ILO) convention, I am what they refer to as the competent authority. Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Secretary to the Government of the Federation will not come and do Labour matters. But, it is an obtuse thing we have here.
“The Labour people led by Wabba feel that they are secondary arm of government and he answers president of NLC, so, he equates himself with the president of Nigeria. But there is only one sovereign authority of Federal Republic of Nigeria and for today by the grace of God, is President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The Act setting up the NSITF gave labour two nominees, private sector under NECA two nominees. Labour appropriated the two for NLC and made a nomination and government has also made a nomination. What we are doing now is that we have proposed and the government has approved a fit and neutral person, not a government officer, not a Labour coloured man and not a private sector man. That is what obtains in tripartism, and we exhibited it for you all to see under the national minimum wage tripartite committee.
“Ms. Amal Pepple is a neutral person that has experience and background as a former permanent secretary, former minister of housing, former head of service of the federation and even a former clerk of the Senate.
“So, she was a round peg in a round hole. We are also going to put a square peg in a square hole. We are going to go ahead and inaugurate the board, we will not have any further distractions on this and we are consulting to fix a date for the inauguration immediately.”
Asked if Kokori was not neutral person, Ngige responded: “I did not recommend him. I am the minister permitted by law to do that recommendation and I am telling you unequivocally that I did not recommend him, simple.”
Asked if he had anything personal against Kokori, he said, “Nothing. I am following the law. I cannot recommend a labour coloured person, I did not recommend him and I am not foolish to do so. And if I am not foolish to do so, NLC should not arm twist me, blackmail me into a submission. I am not a man who will submit to blackmail and you will floor him, no!”
Asked if he was summoned to the Villa because of the matter, Ngige said: “No. Mr. President did not summon me, I came for a meeting and I have finished my meeting and I am going.”

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Declare Buhari’s Seat Vacant, Owuru Urges Court

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The candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) in the last presidential election, Chief Ambrose Owuru, has approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking it to declare the seat of President Muhammadu Buhari vacant.

Owuru, who was among the four petitioners that went to tribunal to challenge Buhari’s re-election, in his fresh suit, sought for an order to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from “undertaking or planning any other election into the office of the President”, in 2023.

The Plaintiff, in his suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/480/2021, maintained that Buhari is “an unlawful President that is illegally occupying the Presidential seat”.

It would be recalled that Owuru and his party, HDP, had in an earlier appeal they litigated up to the Supreme Court, insisted that the Justice Mohammed Garba-led Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, erroneously dismissed a petition they lodged against the return of Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the presidential election that held on February 23, 2019.

They specifically prayed the apex court to sack Buhari on the premise that he emerged through an illegal process.

According to the Appellants, INEC, failed to follow condition precedents stipulated in the Electoral Act, when it unduly postponed the presidential election that was originally fixed for February 16.

The HDP claimed that its candidate, Owuru, secured over 50million votes in a referendum that was conducted by both electorates and observer networks that were dissatisfied with the unilateral postponement of the presidential election by INEC.

However, in a unanimous decision, a five-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Mary Odili, struck out the appeal for constituting “a gross abuse of the judicial process”.

Meantime, in the fresh suit, Owuru and his party argued that their suit against Buhari at the Supreme Court was inconclusive.

The Plaintiffs argued that the case was fixed outside the 60 days period that was allowed by the law.

Owuru asked the court to declare him the authentic winner of the last presidential poll, as well as, to issue an order for his immediate inauguration to take over from Buhari.

He prayed the court to declare that he is entitled to serve out a tenure of 4 years after his formal inauguration.

More so, the HDP presidential candidate, aside from asking for Buhari’s immediate removal from office, equally prayed the court to compel him to refund all salaries, allowances and emoluments he collected while he unlawfully stayed in office as President.

Owuru also asked the court to give an order that salaries, allowances and emoluments be paid to him from May 29, 2019, when he ought to have been sworn in, till date.

The Plaintiff further applied for, “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Respondents by themselves and acting through their agents, servants, privies and or proxies howsoever from any further organizing, undertaking or planning of any other election into the office of the President of Nigeria or any such other Presidential Election interfering, harassing and or disturbing the Applicant adjudged acquired right as unopposed and unchallenged winner of the original scheduled and held the February 16 Presidential Election thereof until the 1st Applicant unserved constitutional four years term of office is served pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit by this honourable court”.

Cited as 1st to 3rd Respondents in the matter were Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation, and INEC.

Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the matter to be heard.

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World Bank Report Exposes Buhari’s Lies, PDP Affirms

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the report by World Bank that 7 million Nigerians have been pushed into poverty in the last year, has clinically belied the integrity posturing of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The opposition party said the World Bank report came in the face of the recent claims by President Buhari that his administration has lifted over 10 million Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years.

The PDP asserted that the report by the World Bank has further vindicated its position that President Buhari runs an uncoordinated and clueless administration that thrives on lies, false performance claims, deceit, and perfidious propaganda.

The statement added that, “Nigerians can now clearly see why the APC and President Buhari’s handlers are always in a frenzy to attack our party and other well-meaning Nigerians whenever we point to the poor handling of the economy and on the need for President Buhari to always be factual on pertinent issues of governance in our country.

“Unfortunately, it indeed appears that Mr. President enjoys living in denial while watching millions of Nigerians go down in abject poverty, excruciating hunger, and starvation as our country now ranks 98th out of 107 in Global Hunger Index under his watch.

“Otherwise, why would Mr. President claim that his administration has lifted over 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty while official figures even from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show worsening poverty rate with 142.2% growth in food inflation and over 82.9 million Nigerians being unable to afford their daily meals due to the failure of the administration to take practical steps to grow and protect the food sector?

“Under President Buhari, Nigerians are now subjected to the worst form of poverty and hardship, with collapsed purchasing power, occasioned by a voodoo economy management that has wrecked our productive sectors and pummeled our naira from the about N167 to a US dollar in 2015 to the current over N500 per dollar.

“It is unfortunate that Mr. President will choose to always bandy fictitious figures and false performance claims, when he has, in a space of six years, destroyed our national productivity and reduced our country to a beggarly nation, a laughing stock and object of pity among the comity of nations.

“The PDP invites Nigerians to note President Buhari and APC’s similar false performance claims in other critical sectors, including power, transportation, road infrastructure, health, education, agriculture, security, aviation among others, where the Buhari administration has been bandying fictitious figures with no tangible project to point at.

“Our party counsels President Buhari, his handlers as well as their party, the APC, to note that Nigerians have seen through their deceitful clams.

“The PDP, once again, urges Mr. President to end his false performance claims and get more competent hands to manage the economy before every Nigerian is turned into a street beggar.”

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Amnesty Kicks As FG Pushes Social Media Regulation

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Amnesty International has strongly opposed the call by the Nigerian Government to regulate the use of social media and online broadcasters.

It would be recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had urged the House of Representatives to include regulation of Twitter in the National Broadcasting Commission Act.

The minister made the call at the public hearing on a bill to amend the NBC Act organised by the House Committee on Information.

“I will want to add, that specifically, internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have responsibility to monitor content— including Twitter,” he said.

Reacting, Amnesty International, in a tweet via its Twitter account, yesterday, kicked against the motion.

It noted that when social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the internet and limit access to social media.

It further noted that criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.

“When social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the Internet and limit access to social media.

“Criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.

“Regulating social media in Nigeria could be easily abused to punish critics of government policies and actions, and anyone who asks difficult questions could find themselves liable for ‘diminishing public confidence in the government.’

“Seeking a law to prohibit abusive, threatening and insulting behaviour is open to very wide interpretation. This section would pose a threat to critical opinion, satire, public dialogue and political commentary,” the statement added.

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