END LEGAL HARASSMENT OF PRO-LABOUR ACTIVISTS
POLICE vs ABBEY TROTSKY OVER SUMAL FOODS, IBADAN
ABBEY INSISTS ON HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS TO A COUNSEL OF HIS CHOICE
The matter adjourned till 15th December 2020
Support the call for police to drop trumped-up charges and for Sumal Foods, Ibadan, to end slave working conditions
By Kingsley Odeh
CDWR, Oyo State Chapter
The trumped-up criminal case instituted against Comrade Abiodun Bamigboye ( Abbey Trotsky) by the police at the behest of SUMAL FOOD LIMITED, Ibadan, came up again on Tuesday, 17th November 2020 at Magistrate Court 9 Iyaganku, Ibadan, Oyo State.
Abiodun Bamigboye (Abbey Trotsky), Acting National Chairperson of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) and Oyo State Coordinator of the Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights (CDWR), is facing three different court cases resulting from the CDWR’s solidarity actions with the October 2018 struggle of casual workers of Sumal Foods against the slave conditions to which they have been subjected by the management.
That struggle won some concessions but some of them have now been reversed. It is in order to intimidate the workers from embarking on fight back and thereby maintain the company as a slave camp that the management has connived with the police and DSS to continuously use the state apparatus including court to harass Abbey Trotsky. This is why apart from the criminal charges against him at the Magistrate Court; he is also facing two different cases respectively filed by the Sumal Food management and the outsourcing companies which recruit casual workers for the company.
This particular court session commenced around 9:30am, and Comrade Abbey Trotsky, again appeared in person without any legal representation. This is because the ruling delivered by the magistrate, M.A Amole-Ajimoti (Mrs) which disqualifies Mr Adeyinka Olumide Fusika, SAN, from defending Abbey Trotsky because he is a senior advocate is still in contention.
A police prosecutor informed the court that the police prosecutor from Zone 11 Osogbo who has been in charge of the case was not available and thus solicited the consent of the court to stand in for him. The court granted the request. The prosecutor, thereafter read out the charges and requested a date having given a false impression that the absence of Abbey Trotsky in the court the last time the case came up was deliberate.
In the absence of any legal representation, Comrade Abbey Trotsky, requested from the court to make a few comments. The court granted the request, therefore offer him the opportunity to address the court during which he clarified that his absence in the court the last time the case came up was not deliberate but owing to the fact that he was never notified of the schedule.
Then, Abbey Trotsky updated the court that his appeal in the Oyo State High Court of justice against the ruling that disqualifies the counsel of his choice, Mr Adeyinka Olumide Fusika, has come up three times this year despite the lockdown and that the police prosecutor has not only failed to show up in all of the three occasions, but has also failed to respond to his brief of argument despite the fact that the court records showed that he was served all of the court processes including the hearing notices.
There was an attempt by the police prosecutor to deny the receipt of all of the court processes but was immediately overruled by the magistrate who maintained that the police prosecutor lacked the capacity to deny the receipt, stating that only the police prosecutor actually in charge of the case had the capacity to do so. The magistrate immediately requested all the documents for sight and later requested a copy which was later given to the court register.
Thereafter, the magistrate asked Abbey Trotsky for his prayer. In his response, Abbey appealed to the court to allow him to enjoy his constitutional right to fair hearing as it is stated in Section 36(4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended which he maintained is important to allow the court to establish his independence and impartiality in this matter. This includes his constitutional right to counsel of his choice as stipulated in Section 36(6) (d) of the same 1999 Constitution and thereby he insisted on having Mr Adeyinka Olumide Fusika, SAN, to defend him.
The matter was adjourned to 15th December 2020 after which journalists who came to cover the court proceeding were addressed by members of the Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights, CDWR, and members of other civil society organizations who join us in solidarity.
These legal actions against Abbey, which have the support of the leadership of the National Union of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE), are meant to hold down the CDWR from intervening to help ending the plight of Sumal workers, thereby helping to allow the slave conditions in the company to continue. We call on trade unions, pro-masses’ organisations and activists to support the call for the police to drop the trumped-up charges against Abbey Trotsky and for the management of Sumal to end casualisation and indecent working conditions.