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A farce that must be fought

Court judgement against the right to protest bad government policies

23 Sept 2004

We read with dismay the outlandish judgement by the Federal High Court, Abuja, denying the working masses their fundamental right to protest against unpopular, anti-peoples’ government policies.

This judgement by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Roseline Ukeje, is another smokescreen by the Obasanjo’s led PDP government to deny the Nigerian workers their legal and democratic rights to freely associate and embark on collective struggles against the anti-poor policies of the regime. The unfortunate judgement contravenes section 40 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which guarantees every person to assemble freely, and associate with other persons and in particular, form trade union or any other association for the protection of his/her interests.

Any bad policy of the government is antithetical to the interest of the poor masses and as such, any protest against such policy by the people is a protection of their interest as envisaged and guaranteed by section 40 of the constitution.

We are bold to say that with or without section 40 of the constitution, the right to protest against the bad policies of any government is an inalienable right, which no court of the land can take away. It is an irony that while the government can go ahead to implement policies antithetical to the social living and working condition of the people; people are being barred, under the guise of law, to protest against these policies.

This attempt to use judiciary, as a canopy to protect the pro-rich and anti-poor policies of this government is unacceptable and the Nigeria Labour Congress leadership and other progressive individuals and organisations must be prepared to fight this latest attack to its logical conclusion. When put side by side with government proposed Bill to amend the Trade Union Act, Justice Ukeje ruling, more than any other factor has made it clear that there is a conscious designs by powers that be to kill organised labour so as to ensure a resistance free reaction to its anti-peoples economic and political policies.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and pro-labour organisations must commence immediately the process of educating and mobilizing the rank and file workers and masses to understand the implications of this judgement with the view to fight back.