Victor Ahiuma-Young & Johnson Agbakwuru
NIGERIA Labour Congress, NLC, faction led by Jeo Ajaero, has challenged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to explain its role in the crisis rocking the central labour body.
Specifically, the faction wants the commission to explain why out of about 70 industrial unions in the country, only its affiliates and leaders have allegedly been singled out for persecution, harassment, intimidation and even probe of their finances.
In a petition to EFCC’s Chairman, Ibrahim Maku, the faction through its Acting General Secretary, Onyeka Chris, equally wants EFCC to explain when the labour laws have been amended to empower the commission to look into the finances of trade unions instead of the Registrar of Trade Unions, RTU, that unions submit their financial reports to every year.
According to the petition: “All unions in the country (about 70) collect Union Dues including levies as the case may be and are accountable to the Registrar of Trade Unions.
The rules are clear and the records are straight. If the EFCC wants to investigate the unions for any reason, it is welcome but allowing itself to be used to settle scores based on any primordial sentiments does great dis-service to the agency and repudiates all the good works it has thus far done in the course of the battle against corruption in Nigeria. Sir, we are not asking you to stop what you are doing but to inform you that EFCC as a body has jumped into the arena on the side of Ayuba in the NLC crisis. We ask again, is the EFCC a party to the NLC crisis?”
The petition which accused some operatives of the commission of being willing tools in the hands of the other faction, to persecute, harass and intimidate opposing unions and their leaders, claimed the latest of EFCC’s attacks was the National Union of Electricity, NUEE.
NUEE is the union that the President of the faction, Joe Ajaero, is from and incidentally, Ajaero is the General Secretary of NUEE.
The petition claimed that since Ajaero returned the Three Million Naira paid into his account by the Treasurer of NLC in 2012, when he was then a Deputy President of NLC, which other members of the National Administrative Council, NAC, collected, there had been a calculated and deliberate attempt to smear and destroy his image.
According to the petition, the plot to destroy Ajaero and others, thickened after the factionalisation of NLC in 2015, and after the failed strike by the other faction against the federal government deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry earlier in the year.
The petition alleged among others, that in NUEE, the other faction found ready allies in a growing militant body from Kaduna.
comprising some former staff of PHCN who had been fully paid their entitlement but were now in alliance with the faction to attack the industry and the leadership of the Union.
According to the petition, the rival faction believed this was a way of paying back the Union for its stand on the current crisis in the Congress and for not joining in the infamous strike.
The petition read in part: “First, the Wabba faction asked them to do a letter to him on their disengagement as a way of slighting the industrial unions in charge of the sector. He later met with them and urged them to raise a petition on the levy they paid to the union while they were in service in 2013. In the petition which was submitted at the Kano office of the EFCC on August 5th 2016, the petitioners asked that the account of the Union be frozen that the Union no longer exist. This is a lie and can be verified from the Federal Ministry of Labour.
“These two pleas leave no one in doubt of the major motive of the petitioners and their sponsoring patron. It is purely designed to cripple the union and reduce its capacity to continue working with other like-minds in the Congress to creatively resist the attempt to use the Congress as a platform for unpatriotic and selfish purposes. Note sir that before then, the illegal body parading as ex-PHCN staff had already played guest to the DSS in Kaduna, the Police and are facing trial in Kaduna presently in suit CCTW/CR/91/2016. This is the group the EFCC is now working with.