SUMAL FOOD WORKERS’ STRUGGLE:
Persecution of Abbey Trotsky on Trumped-up Charges Continues
Appeal for Solidarity for CDWR’s Campaign Against Casualization and Indecent Labour Practices in Workplaces
It is now over three years since Comrade Abiodun Bamigboye (Abbey Trotsky), the Oyo State Coordinator of the Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights, CDWR, and the Acting National Chairperson of the Socialist party of Nigeria, SPN was first arraigned at the Magistrate Court, Iyaganku, Ibadan, Oyo state, to answer to four-count trumped–up criminal charges of conspiracy to commit breach of public peace, unlawful assembly, assault, and malicious damage. This was after he had suffered repeated harassment and arrest by the police and state secret service, known as DSS between 19 December 2018 and 19 June 2019.
By CDWR Reporters
Between June 19, 2019, and now, the four-count criminal charge has been increased to an eight-count charge while the trial itself has been presided over by four different magistrates, adjourned not fewer than 15 times with seven different re-arraignments. Aside from the criminal matter at the magistrate court, there are two other civil matters at the National Industrial Court, (NIC).
One of the civil cases was instituted by the management of Sumal Food Limited Ibadan in connivance with the national leadership of the National Union of Food, Beverages and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE). The second one was by over 20 outsourcing companies who recruit mass of the poor workers usually engaged under a casual/contract employment condition for Sumal Food Limited.
It should be recalled that the background to this orchestrated use of the State and judiciary for persecution of Abbey Trotsky was the intervention of the CDWR Oyo State Chapter in the strike/ struggle against poor and slavery working condition embarked upon between 2nd and 4th of October, 2020 by hundreds of casual workers at Sumal Food. This is apparently meant to criminalize solidarity action in support of exploited workers and hold down the CDWR from its intervention and campaign against casualization and indecent labour practices in Oyo State and the country at large.
However, this motive has been defeated. Abbey Trotsky and the CDWR have remained resolute in the campaign and struggle in the defence of workers’ rights and interests. Indeed, despite the persecution in court over Sumal Food intervention, the CDWR has in the last three years actively intervened in different workers struggles against poor working condition which won some concessions in a number of companies in Oyo state. These include GX FOOD Limited, Eagle flour mill, Premier Feedmill, among others.
As a matter of fact, the civil matter instituted by the Sumal Food in collaboration with the leadership of National Union of Food, Beverages and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) at the NIC was recently settled out of court while the one by the outsourcing companies is also at the verge of following suit. Terms of settlement have been exchanged and signed by parties awaiting the affirmation of the court.
However, the criminal matter at the magistrate court, in which the state and police appear not yet prepared to drop the trumped- up charges, is still pending although the trial is stalemated at the moment. This is partly as a result of the appeal filed by Abbey Trotsky against the 5th December, 2019 ruling by Magistrate (Mrs) M.A Amale Ajimoti which disqualifies Mr. Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, from appearing as a defense counsel for him because the lawyer is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). The ruling says that a SAN is barred from appearing before a magistrate court. It is the legality of the ruling that we have determined to challenge in a higher court as we strongly hold that any accused person should have the right to a lawyer of their choice.
Going by this background, it is that the struggle is not yet over. It is in view of this that we appeal for continued support and solidarity of trade unions, youths, left groups and civil society organizations nationally and internationally against the persecution of Abbey Trotsky and for our campaign against injustice and casualization including all forms of slavery working condition in workplaces in Oyo state nay Nigeria.
We thank Citipoint Chambers, Ola Adeosun Victoria Chambers, and Femi Aborisade chambers for their free legal representation in Abbey Trotsky’s cases and members of civil society organizations like JAF, CORE, AWC, etc. as well as the NASU, ASUU, NLC, and TUC that have also joined in solidarity at one time or the other. We equally appreciate the international solidarity from different sections of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI).