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21 December 2003

Lagos NCP press release

FREE ARRESTED WORKERS AND STOP ATTACKS ON LABOUR ACTIVISTS AND JOURNALISTS

The Lagos State chapter of the National Conscience Party (NCP) calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the workers of Mikano Nigeria Limited and the labour leaders who were arrested by armed policemen on Thursday 19th December 2003 at the company premises in Ogba, Ikeja, Lagos while holding a peaceful protest against the atrocious working conditions in the company.

Among other oppressive practices, the company management forbids workers from belonging to a trade union.

We condemn unreservedly the vicious brutality with which the police attacked these workers and trade unionists and the journalists who were merely present to report the workers' protest.

Among those arrested are the national president of NUSDE and national auditor of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr. Bright Anokwuru as well as the secretary general of the union, Mr. Sule Babatunde, and many workers of Mikano Nigeria Limited. They are presently being detained at Area G police command in Ogba, Ikeja.

Internationally, peaceful protests and belonging to trade unions by workers are regarded as fundamental democratic rights. But despite the return to civil rule in Nigeria in May 1999, these rights have been wantonly violated by governments at all levels and by private employers of labour. Several labour activists have been witch-hunted and sacked by the governments controlled by the major ruling parties, the PDP, AD and ANPP simply for fighting for decent wages and against mass retrenchment of workers.

Presently, there is before the National Assembly a new Trade Union Bill proposed by the Obasanjo regime which seeks to weaken the trade unions by giving the government an unconstitutional and anti-democratic power to de-register trade unions. This bill reveals the determination of the ruling parties and the Obasanjo government to undermine or destroy the mass opposition to their unpopular anti-poor, pro-rich, neo-liberal policies of deregulation, commercialisation, privatisation, incessant hike in fuel prices, and retrenchment of workers.

We in the Lagos State NCP calls on the leadership of the trade unions, the NLC and civil society groups to organise, as a matter of urgency, a comprehensive programme of mass mobilisation, including mass rallies, protests and strike actions to resist the current avalanche of attacks on poor working people's living standard and democratic rights.

Last but not the least, we advocate joint efforts by the trade unions, the NCP and civil society organisations to build an independent mass working people's political party which will mobilise the workers, peasant farmers, traders, artisans and the poor masses in general to take political power and chase out the present corrupt and self-serving parasites whose rule can only lead to the continuation of mass poverty, endless hardship, and repression for the working people, and socio-economic underdevelopment and political instability for the country.

SEGUN SANGO

Chairman, Lagos State NCP