Nigeria Labour Congress Threatens to Shut Down Economy if Attacked During Nationwide Protest

by Ohepo Ohepo

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has issued a stern warning to the government, cautioning against any form of aggression towards its members and participants during the upcoming nationwide protest. The labor union emphasized that any form of attack on the demonstrators would result in a comprehensive shutdown of the country’s economy.

This warning comes in light of the NLC’s announcement of a nationwide protest scheduled for the 27th and 28th of February, aimed at voicing out against the severe economic difficulties plaguing the nation. The call for protest follows after a 14-day ultimatum was given to the Nigerian Government to address the escalating hardship faced by the populace.

However, the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, have appealed to the NLC to reconsider and cancel the proposed nationwide demonstration. Similarly, the Trade Union Congress has expressed concerns that the protest orchestrated by the NLC could potentially lead to unrest, given the current state of tension and widespread hunger among the citizens.

Furthermore, the government has issued a caution to the NLC, indicating that proceeding with the protest could be seen as contempt of court. Contrarily, Femi Falana, SAN, in a letter addressed to Fagbemi dated February 24, 2024, argued that the NLC’s intended public protest does not constitute contempt of the ex parte orders issued by the National Industrial Court, as the NLC has contested the court’s jurisdiction to preside over the main case.

In a definitive statement released on Sunday and signed by the NLC President, the union reaffirmed its commitment to carrying out the protest as initially planned. The statement also issued a clear warning to the government against any attempt to interfere with or disrupt the peaceful mass action.

It alleged that the state had “perfected plans to attack our peaceful rallies across the country”.


It said, “One of the groups being primed to attack our peaceful rallies is by a nebulous name, Nigeria Civil Society Forum (NCSF).

“NCSF is one of the emergency groups put together, funded, promoted and remote-controlled by government to cause violence against our members for electing to peacefully protest against the hunger in the land.


“We would want the State to know that the solution to our horrible economic situation and hunger is not by suppressing peaceful dissent or inflicting violence on peacefully protesting citizens as the government did in Minna and other cities where its agents tear-gassed and beat up women before locking them up for raising their voice against hunger. It does not lie in the deployment of State-sponsored terror. The pangs of hunger cannot be cowed by bullets or tear gas.


“In light of this, we at the Nigeria Labour Congress and civil society allies are moving ahead with our protest rallies against economic hardship and insecurity in line with the decision of the National Executive Council.

“As citizens, we have a fundamental right to peaceful protest and history bears us witness that our protests are always peaceful except in instances of State- engineered violence.


“In light of this, we advise the State to put on its thinking cap and find solutions to the pains it continues to cause the people instead of further dehumanising them.

“However, if it is irrevocably set on the path of violence against us and other peace- loving Nigerians, it will be making a costly mistake because if we are attacked there will be a total shut down via withdrawal of services by workers. Let no one be deceived, we and other deprived Nigerians cannot easily be intimidated

“Lest those in power now who may have forgotten be reminded, we faced a more resourceful and resilient adversary in order to have democracy. All we are saying now is that; let there be food for the people, let the people live in safety, let the people live a life of dignity devoid of suffocating IMF/World Bank economic policies.


“Once again we advise those waiting in the wings to unleash violence on us that this is not about the NLC but about Nigerians who are saying “enough is enough”, about a people who have resolved not to be further pushed into the pit of misery and hopelessness, while a few live in obscene luxury at our collective expense.”


The NLC also called the “attention of the international human rights body and the governments of the African Union and the United Nations that the right of the people to peacefully protest and demand for freedom from economic slavery and hardship is being threatened by the Nigerian State”.


“We however remain resolute, determined and prepared to express our pain and grief in a peaceful manner as Nigerians come 27th and 28th of February 2024,” Ajaero added.

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