June 19, 2024

Strike: Concerned Nigerians call for arrest of electricity workers over acts of sabotage, terrorism 

Oredola Adeola

Concerned Nigerians have called for the arrest and prosecution of staff of Transmission Company of Nigeria(TCN) under the aegis of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE)  for acts of terrorism and threatening the country’s security architectural network .

The call was made over the recent industrial actions of the workers, which led to the complete shut down of major power transmission substations across the country.

The call was made by Mr. Frank Tietie, Executive Director, Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER).

According to him, in the short period for which power generation and distribution were wholly shut down in Nigeria, the electricity union succeeded in inflicting untold hardships on Nigerians and caused losses in the billions of Naira to Nigerian businesses.
“It is illegal for workers in essential services sectors to embark on strike actions.
He said, “It is criminal by the provisions of Section 31(6) of the Trade Unions Act for workers in the essential services sector to embark on strike actions, but the failure of successive administrations to deal with this mindless criminality has led to the present worsening and highly embarrassing situation where even electricity workers have now decided to disregard the law by embarking on debilitating strike action on August 17, 2022.“ Thus, irrespective of the propriety or genuineness of the demands of any Nigerian workers union, they are barred by Nigerian law from embarking on strike actions if they are engaged in the provision of essential services.
“There is a reason why the National Assembly of Nigeria in 2005 outlawed strikes in the essential services sector. It is not unconnected with the fragility of the Nigerian society and other related problems which are fundamental to the well-being of the Nigerian people.“What the electricity workers who went on strike have failed to realize is that their strike action on the 17th of August, 2022 amounted to an act of terrorism against the Nigerian State and that they are therefore liable to be punished with life imprisonment on conviction according to the combined provisions of Section 1 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act (as Amended) which defines an “act of terrorism” to include any act deliberately done with malice, aforethought and which, may seriously harm or damage a country or an international organization; is intended or can reasonably be regarded as having been intended to—
I. unduly compel a government or international organization to perform or abstain from performing any act;
ii. seriously intimidate a population ;
iii. seriously destabilise, or destroy the fundamental political, constitutional, economic ( social structures of a country or an international organization; or,
iv) otherwise influence such government or international organization by intimidation or coercion; and
c . involves, as the case may be, the interference with or disruption of the supply of water, power or any other fundamental natural resource, the effect of which is to endanger human life.
The CASER Director  also noted that based on the aforementioned,  the electricity workers cannot be excused by the exception in subsection 3 of the above section as they embarked on the strike for coercion.
The Group also noted that the electricity workers have done is nothing different from acts by a terrorist group such as Boko Haram.

He said, “Therefore, it is only appropriate to institute criminal proceedings against them to serve as deterrence to other unions in the essential services sector that may contemplate any illegal strikes.”If electricity workers can embark on strikes, then members of the Nigerian Police and military- Army, Navy, and Airforce can also embark on strike actions. Such a situation is unimaginable. That is why the law prohibits such strike actions.

CASER however cautioned that the failure of the Attorney General, to enforce the legal standards as to illegal strikes as in the tradition of past administrations which, for reasons of lack of political will, failed to act in the public interest, will lead to the further expansion of the reign of impunity which has been the bane of Nigeria’s fragile democracy.Sola Ajulo, in a statement condemning the action of the NUEE, said the workers acted without considering the need to respect other citizens’ rights.

According to him, unions hold the Government hostage and demand ransom, or else, the citizen suffers!

He described the workers as self-centered “terrorists”, “hostage takers” and “blackmailers. He added that the Nigerian nation is gradually being held in bondage by ‘citizen activism’ and ‘unionism’ for self-centered reasons.