By Jonathan Ugbal
Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna on Wednesday named a former Attorney General of Cross River State, Eyo Ekpo Esq and six others as members of the judicial commission of inquiry into the industrial action and protest of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) of May 16th to 19th 2021 in that State.
Ekpo, said to have a long standing relationship with Mr. El-Rufai will serve as commissioner in the inquiry panel led by a former Chief Judge of High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Justice Ishaq Bello.
“This judge-led inquiry has 14 terms of reference, including the legality of the strike and any breach of the relevant laws on trade disputes and essential services,” read a statement issued by El-Rufai’s spokesman, Muyiwa Adekeye.
The Governor also appointed Daniel Chukwudi Enwelum, SAN as Counsel to the Commission, and Mr. Musa Kakaki, Esq. as Secretary to the Commission.
Meanwhile, the NLC has described this as a joke taken too far and vowed to continue with its planned strike action and protests.
“Without prejudice to the right of a state government to set up a commission of inquiry, and although we have the greatest respect for the Chairman of the Commission, Justice Ishaq Bello, and members of the commission, we would think this is a joke taken too far, an abuse of executive powers of a governor and a waste of the resources of the state,” a statement signed by NLC National President, Ayuba Wabba read.
Mr. Wabba who said Mr. El-Rufai was a party to the dispute, pointed out that one of the core principles of law stated that one could not be a judge in one’s case. “The NLC did not see how El-Rufai and the Kaduna State Government could be judge in this matter and we would still have justice given his repeated boast that he would deal with labour leaders and those who took part in the strike action….and that by the time he was done, they would never again set their feet in Kaduna,” Wabba said.
Read the full statement from Sir Kashim Ibrahim House below…
KADUNA UPDATE: KDSG names Justice Ishaq Bello to lead inquiry on NLC warning strike
The Kaduna State Government has established a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the NLC warning strike of 16th to 19th May 2021, and the actions and events associated with it. This judge-led inquiry has 14 terms of reference, including the legality of the strike and any breach of the relevant laws on trade disputes and essential services.
A statement from Sir Kashim Ibrahim House disclosed that Justice Ishaq Bello, former Chief Judge of the FCT, will chair the seven-member inquiry which is required to submit its final report 60 days after its first sitting.
“Malam Nasir El-Rufai has appointed seven members into the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the actions and conduct of persons and organisations in relation to the 16th to 19th May 2021 warning strike of the NLC.
“Acting under the powers conferred by the 1999 Constitution and the Commissions of Inquiry Law, CAP 34, Laws of Kaduna State, 1991, Governor Nasir El-Rufai has named the following persons as members of the inquiry:
i. Hon. Mr. Justice Ishaq Bello – Chairman
ii. AVM Rabiu Dabo – Commissioner
iii. Mr. Eyo O. Ekpo – Commissioner
iv. Mrs. Joan Jatau-Kadiya – Commissioner
v. Mr. Chom Bagu – Commissioner
vi. Dr. Nasirudeen Usman – Commissioner
vii. Malam Mohammed Isah Aliyu – Commissioner
“Malam Nasir El-Rufai also appointed Mr. Daniel Chukwudi Enwelum, SAN as Counsel to the Commission, and Mr. Musa Kakaki, Esq. as Secretary to the Commission.
“The instrument establishing the Judicial Commission of Inquiry prescribes the following terms of reference:
a) ASCERTAIN the precise chronology of events immediately preceding and during the “warning strike” of 16th to 19th May 2021;
b) INQUIRE into whether the NLC can lawfully declare a “warning strike” or any industrial action in any State in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
c) ASCERTAIN whether the NLC or its affiliates complied with the Labour Act, Trade Union Act, Trade Dispute (Essential Services) Act and other laws in declaring and effecting the said “warning strike” in Kaduna State.
d) INQUIRE into whether the internal processes and procedures of the NLC at national and subnational levels were complied with in declaring the “warning strike”, in particular with regards to the powers and responsibilities of the affiliate unions in such matters.
e) INQUIRE into the actions taken by the NLC and any affiliate union(s) before, during and after the “warning strike” of 16th to 19th May 2021, and determine whether such actions amount to any breach of the Trade Union Act, the Trade Disputes Act, the Trade Disputes (Essential Services) Act, the Miscellaneous Offenses Act, the Quarantine Act, the Public Health Law and Penal Code Law of Kaduna State and other extant laws and regulations pursuant thereto.
f) INQUIRE into the roles of various actors before, during and after the said “warning strike”, and determine whether actions and omissions by the following organisations and persons amount to a breach of any extant laws:
i. The Nigerian Labour Congress and any affiliate union(s);
ii. The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN);
iii. The Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company (KAEDCO);
iv. The Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC);
v. Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN);
vi. Federal Ministry of Labour, Employment and Productivity;
vii. Federal Ministry of Power;
viii. Federal Ministry of Transportation;
ix. Federal Ministry of Aviation;
x. Mr. Ayuba Wabba;
xi. Mr. Joe Ajaero;
xii. Mr. Ayuba Suleiman;
xiii. The Nigeria Police Force; and
xiv. Any other association(s), organization(s) or person(s) that the Commission may consider necessary.
g) INQUIRE INTO, AND ASCERTAIN the economic losses incurred by citizens, businesses and the Kaduna State Government as a result of the “warning strike” of the NLC.
h) EXAMINE the national security implications and consequences arising from the actions undertaken by the NLC during the “warning strike”, and to invite submissions in these regards from, but not limited to:
i. The Nigerian Army
ii. The Nigerian Air Force
iii. The Nigeria Police
iv. Federal Ministry of Power
v. Federal Ministry of Transportation
vi. Federal Ministry of Aviation
vii. The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN)
viii. The Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company (KAEDCO)
ix. The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC)
x. The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN)
xi. The Department of State Security (DSS)
xii. Any other person(s) or organisations deemed necessary by the Commission.
i) INQUIRE INTO AND ASSIGN responsibility for acts of (i) trespass into public and private property, (ii) restraints of citizens’ freedoms, (iii) coercion, assault and trespass in forcing businesses and offices to close, (iv) assault of public officers, and (v) the unlawful closure of hospitals and discharge of patients by the NLC and its affiliates during the “warning strike” of 16th to 19th May 2021.
j) RECOMMEND to the State Government, Federal Government and other authorities on the appropriate actions to be taken to avert or curb any repeat of the events of 16th to 19th May 2021.
k) RECOMMEND any and all appropriate sanctions to be levied upon any person or organization that may have been found to be responsible for any losses ascertained by this Inquiry, along with compensation payable to person(s) or organizations(s) that suffered due to actions taken during said period of the “warning strike”.
l) RECOMMEND any civil remedies, criminal prosecution, policy measures or other actions that may be taken by the Kaduna State Government or recommended to be taken by the Federal Government arising from the “warning strike” of 16th to 19th May, 2021.
m) INVITE any individuals, organizations, associations and the general public to bring up memoranda, petitions and other form(s) of presentations that will assist the Commission in addressing these terms of reference.
n) SUBMIT a final report not later than 60 days after its first sitting.
“The Judicial Commission of Inquiry shall have the powers conferred by Section 7 of the Commissions of Inquiry Law, including:
i. To procure all such evidence, written or oral, and to examine all such persons as witnesses as the commissioners may think it necessary or desirable to procure or examine;
ii. To require the evidence (whether written or oral) of any witness to be made on oath or declaration, such oath or declaration to be that which could be required of the witness if he were giving evidence in a magistrate’s court;
iii. To summon any person in Nigeria to attend any meeting of the commissioners to give evidence or procure any document or other thing in his possession and to examine him as a witness or require him to produce any document or other thing in his possession, subject to all just exceptions;
iv. To issue a warrant to compel the attendance of any person who, after having been summoned to attend, fails to do so, and does not excuse such failure to the satisfaction of the commissioners, and to order him to pay all costs which may have been occasioned in compelling his attendance or by reason of his refusal to obey the summons.”
Special Adviser to the Governor (Media & Communication)
6th July 2021
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