Talks held in bid to prevent labour from going on strike, took a new twist following allegation that the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC) led by Ayuba Wabba, and Trade Union Congress(TUC) are blackmailing the federal government into writing off the N2.3 billion loan obtained by the union in 2011 before the strike is suspended.
Under Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency in 2011, the Urban Development Bank of Nigeria (UDBN) financed the purchase of 150 mass transit buses from China, for NLC and TUC in a N2.3b loan agreement.
Factional president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajaero, on Tuesday in Abuja while reiterating the decision of his faction not to join the fuel hike protest slated to commence on Wednesday, said Ayuba Wabba led-faction and the TUC have been using the ongoing negotiation between the unions and the federal government to ask the latter to write off the N2.3b loan they obtained from its agency in 2011.
His word: “When you are asking that the loan given to you in 2012, which had not been paid back should be written off, we believe that the action has already been sold out before it takes off.
“So, we will wait for our group to meet. But definitely, it appears that by ideology and every other thing. We can no longer meet. We thought we should have managed this in the interest of Nigerians but from the look of things, if appear we have to go our different ways.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the National Industrial Court stopped the Nigerian Labour Congress, and the Trade Union Congress from embarking on the planned strike.
Justice Babatunde Adejumo gave the restraining order after the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami moved an exparte application.
Justice Adejumo held: “The defendants are hereby restrained from carrying out the threat contained in their communique issued on May 14th pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed on May 16.
“It is the order of this court that status quo be maintained as at 17th May.”
He also ordered that the processes in the case be served on the respondents within 24 hours and that proof of service be filed in the court
“It is the order of this court that non of the parties shall engage in any act, conduct, overtly, covertly on this matter pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice,” Justice Adejumo further held.
The judge transferred the case to another judge of the court saying that he would be engaged at the National Judicial Council and would not be able to take further proceeding on the matter.
The judge said he was busy at the National Judicial Council and would not be able to go ahead with the hearing.
Adejumo said that he preferred that the dispute be resolved amicably but that he was constrained to issue the order exparte because the respondents were not yet before him.
He also said that he granted the order to make sure that people were not subjected to avoidable hardship.
He said:”I decided to take this case this morning because it is on an issue that will affect everybody. I don’t want people to be subjected to hardship. There will be scarcity of foods, people may die, students will engage in all sorts of activities. This is why I have to grant this order.”
The order will lapse in seven days except it is renewed.