The Alliance on Surviving Covid-19 and Beyond (ASCAB) has knocked Governor Nasir El-Rufai for declaring the National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba wanted.
This was made known in a letter signed by the Interim Chairman of ASCAB, Femi Falana (SAN).
El-Rufai on his verified Twitter page on Tuesday declared the labour leaders wanted for ‘economic sabotage & attacks on public infrastructure under Miscellaneous Offences Act.’
He tweeted, “KADUNA UPDATE: Ayuba Wabba & others of @NLCHeadquarters declared wanted for economic sabotage & attacks on public infrastructure under Miscellaneous Offences Act. Anyone that knows where he is hiding should send a message to @MOJKaduna. KDSG. There will be a handsome reward!”
However, the Alliance described the statement as laughable, noting that it is common knowledge that Wabba and his colleagues were on the streets of Kaduna leading the peaceful protest embarked upon by workers in the state.
The letter explained that the directive of the governor cannot be enforced for the following reasons:
“By the combined effect of the Trade Union Act and the Nigerian Constitution, Comrade Wabba and other labour leaders have the unquestionable rights to participate in the peaceful warning strike and mass protests against further retrenchment of workers in the Kaduna State public service.
“The Miscellaneous Offences Act is not a state statute but a federal enactment. To that extent, if Governor El Rufai has evidence that Comrade Wabba and other labour leaders have contravened any provisions of the Act, he is required to lodge a complaint in any of the police stations in Kaduna State. The Governor lacks the power to declare any alleged offender wanted under the Act or any other law whatsoever.
“Furthermore, since Comrade Wabba and other labour leaders are entitled to the fundamental right of fair hearing including presumption of innocence guaranteed by section 36 of the Constitution, the Governor of Kaduna lacks the power to declare them wanted.
“In Benedict Peters v. Economic and Financial Crimes Commission & Anor. (Suit No: FCT/HC/BW/CV/23/2021) of 22nd March, 2018 even though the EFCC had obtained a warrant for the arrest of the Plaintiff the Court held that:
“But neither the said warrant nor any of those statutes, including the Police Act and the Administration of Criminal Justice Act provide that the 1st Respondent can declare any person who is suspected to have committed an offence, but is evading warrant of arrest as a wanted person, without an order of court first had and obtained.”
The group then called on the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies to ignore the illegal statement made by the governor.
It noted that in a previous similar case: Eperokun v. University of Lagos (1986) 4 NWLR (PT 34) 162 at 172, the Supreme Court held that “…constitutionally entrenched provisions, particularly those safeguarding individual rights, should not, save in a fascist system, be lightly trampled upon.”