PHOTO: NLC Takes Over The Streets Of Port-Harcout In A Serious Protest.
Labour yesterday called for death penalty for corruption convicts.
To the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), the anti-corruption laws are too weak to stop potential treasury looters. They must be strengthened.
The NLC demostrated its support for the Muhammadu Buhari administration’s battle with rallies and picketing of Government Houses in state capitals.
Many streets were paralysed by the protesters, who carried placards
In Abuja, NLC President Ayuba Waba led the protest. The team marched on the office of the Secretary to the Federal Government (SGF) and the National Assembly premises.
Presenting a letter to the SGF, Mr. David Bachir Lawal, Waba said:
“Gone is the day when people that are corrupt will get perpetual injunctions restraining EFCC from prosecuting them. If we have such cases, Nigerian workers are ready to go to their residences and bring them to court and also interrogate the judge.
“Our judiciary must sit up. Gone are the days when perpetual injunctions are issued,,restraining agencies of government from prosecuting corrupt public officers. We must be on the same page and therefore, Nigerian workers are ready to invade the courts and the sanctity of such judges.
“We are also demanding that the penalty of corrupt public officers should be made very strict, including capital punishment. If has worked elsewhere and there is no reason why it should not work here. Therefore, all of us are here to try to present our position.”
Lawal commended labour for standing beside the Buhari administration in its quest to make corruption a thing of the past. He assured them that the government will not fail Nigerians in the fight against corruption.
The Government secretary said the government considers labour as partners in the development of the country and not enemies, pointing out that with the workers supporting the government’s fight against corruption, the fight is almost won.
He said if the country must move forward, corruption must be made unattractive, while those who engage in corrupt practices should not be given any place to hide.
There was a mild drama at the first gate to the National Assembly when security agents locked the gates, preventing labour and civil society organisations from gaining access to deliver their protest letters.
The angry workers who were kept at the first gate to the National Assembly for about 10 minutes threatened to pull down the gates if they were not allowed.
The workers and civil society organisations who began their march at the Unity Fountain also took the campaign to the headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Some of the placards they bore read: ‘Payment of workers’ salaries is not negotiable’; ‘Stop corruption; Nigeria can create million of jobs alone in agriculture’; ‘Invest in agriculture today; Corruption has damaged our communication sector, stop it’; recover our monies in the hands of past leaders now; corruption has increased poverty, fight it now; if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us; corruption promotes insecurity, stop it now, among others.
Waba said further labour abhors a situation where those who stole public funds are given light sentence or an option of fine, only to come out and enjoy the money they stole adding that in China, those found to be corrupt are shut to serve as deterrent to others.
“Our leaders must use their brains to come up with policies and programmes that will impact meaningfully on Nigerians. This is a struggle for all of us a struggle for a new Nigeria, a struggle for good governance and a struggle against corruption.
“We are here because our laws are very weak. Even if one steals N100 billion, he get two years jail term or part with a fraction of the money and is allowed to go and enjoy.
“The one that comes to mind is the case of Atiku Kigbo who stole billions from the Pension fund and what he got was two years imprisonment and N750,000.00 fine.
“We are also demanding that all political office holders both elected and appointed must declare their assets before assumption of office, mid way into their tenure and at the end of their office so that we can know whether they have stolen or not.
“Our generation and generation yet unborn will suffer for the consequences of not fighting corruption. For the first time in our history, workers went eight months without salaries. Let us not fight the symptom. The disease is corruption and lack of good governance”.
President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Boboi Kaigama said this was the first time in over 20 years that workers had to stay for several months without salaries as a result of corruption.
He said labour had always been in forefront of the fight against corruption, pointing out that President Buhari had only come out to align with the position of labour, pointing out that the onus of fighting corruption lies on the workers who are the only people paying taxes in the country.
He said that workers cannot afford to wait for the EFCC, ICPC or the police to fight corruption in the country, pointing out that the time has come when Nigerians should stand up and stamp out corruption.
Chairman of EFCC Ibrahim Lamorde commended the labour efforts in supporting the fight against corruption and assured that they will act on the letter with dispatch.
Lamorde assured that they will not be deterred in their zeal to fight corruption in the country in line with the aspiration of Nigerians and President Muhammadu Buhari.
At the National Assembly, Senate Deputy Minority Whip, Senator Francis Alimikhena received the letter on behalf of the Senate President Bukola Saraki.
He assured them that the Senate was in agreement with the President’s anti corruption campaign and will do everything possible to ensure that fight against corruption in the country is a success.
Alimikhena said as part of the senate’s fight against corruption, it had asked for the abolition of waiver on the importation of rice as well as investigating investment in the power sector since 1999.
House of Representatives member Sani Zorro who represented Speaker Yakubu Dogara, apologized to labour for the difficulty encountered while trying to access the National Assembly.
He said the House of Representatives is in full support of the fight against corruption in the country.
General Secretary of the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, Comrade Isa Aremu and President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU) Dr. Nasir Fagge, also spoke at the rallies.