By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
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, signed by the Special Adviser to the Governor (Media & Communication), Muyiwa Adekeye, dated July 6, 2021 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.”