The Federal Ministry of Justice has decided to withdraw the contempt proceedings it had initiated against the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) following the suspension of its nationwide protests.
The Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Mrs. B.E. Jedy-Agba, OON, mni, in a letter addressed to Messrs. Falana & Faiana’s Chambers, noted that this decision came after the NLC’s recent communique, in which it announced the halt of its protests and criticized the contempt summons issued by the National Industrial Court.
Jedy-Agba stressed that the Ministry’s move to withdraw the contempt proceedings is in line with the decision of the NLC to call off its industrial action, following interventions by His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and constructive discussions with the President and the leadership of the National Assembly.
The correspondence between the Ministry and Messrs. Falana & Faiana’s Chambers revealed a prior exchange of letters highlighting the importance of complying with existing court orders that prohibit any form of industrial action by the NLC and Trade Union Congress.
“The Ministry’s position was rooted in the goal of preserving the court’s integrity and preventing disruptions to public services and facilities”, she added.
The letter reads: “Despite these earlier communications and attempts at intervention, the NLC proceeded with its industrial action on August 2nd, 2023, through public protests that resulted in significant disruptions, including the removal of the gate at the National Assembly.
“This prompted the Ministry to initiate contempt proceedings by filing Form 48 on the same day, as per the provisions of Section 72 of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act and Order 9 Rule 13 of the Judgment (Enforcement) Rules”.
However, with the subsequent decision by the NLC to suspend its protests and the involvement of high-level discussions with key stakeholders, the Ministry opted not to pursue the contempt proceedings any further.
The withdrawal of the proceedings was also influenced by the fact that the issuance of Form 49, which is crucial for the continuation of contempt proceedings, had not taken place by August 4th, 2023, rendering the entire process incomplete.
Jedy-Agba emphasized the significance of these developments and recommended that the NLC be informed of the withdrawal of the contempt proceedings, underscoring that the concerns raised by the NLC in its communique had become obsolete due to the events that had transpired.
This unexpected turn of events highlights the dynamic nature of legal proceedings and the importance of dialogue in resolving contentious issues. The withdrawal of the contempt proceedings serves as a testament to the power of negotiation and the impact of leadership in reaching constructive solutions.
Read the letter in full