The President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, who is currently leading the protest against the plan by the Kaduna State government to sack many workers, has challenged Governor Nasir El-Rufai to arrest him.
The governor, on Tuesday, declared Mr Wabba and other NLC officials wanted for alleged sabotage.
“KADUNA UPDATE: Ayuba Wabba & others of @NLCHeadquarters declared wanted for economic sabotage & attacks on public infrastructure under Miscellaneous Offences Act. Anyone that knows where he is hiding should send a message to @MOJKaduna. KDSG. There will be a handsome reward!,” Mr El-Rufai wrote on Twitter.
However, during a short interview at the protest ground on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Wabba said, “the strike was not about me.
“Let him come and arrest me. We are here and waiting for them,” Mr Wabba was quoted to have told Daily Trust.
The NLC, Kaduna State chapter, on Monday, embarked on a five-day warning strike over the proposed sack of civil servants in the state.
Workers from different parastatals and cadres of the civil service joined the protest, withdrawing their services for the five days
As a result, the airport, public schools, government offices are shut, in addition to the total blackout across the state.
But the state government has repeatedly vowed not to back down from the plan.
“NLC are aware that inflicting pains on citizens by locking hospitals and shutting down electricity will not change the decision of Kaduna State government to rightsize and will not change our intention to use the Trade Union Act which prohibits strike by extension service workers,” the state’s Head of Service, Bara’atu Mohammed, said on Monday evening.
The Kaduna State Government had on Saturday mentioned an arrest warrant against Mr Wabba dating back to 2017 when he led a similar mass action in the state
“The Kaduna State Government has been made aware of plans by some trade unionists, led by Ayuba Wabba, to reprise the mayhem they visited on Kaduna during their rampage of 8 November 2017. That day, in one of the most shameful displays of irresponsibility, they thrashed the premises of the Kaduna State House of Assembly as part of their futile attempt to force the government to retain 21,780 teachers who did not pass a Primary 4 competency test. The State Government sacked the failed teachers and swiftly recruited 25,000 teachers to replace them and to promote the right of the children of the poor to decent education.
“Following that shameful 2017 episode, there is a subsisting warrant for the arrest of Wabba for the vandalization of government facilities, in violation of the Miscellaneous Offences Act and other laws of the land,” the head of civil service said.
Although Mr Wabba was yet to respond to the claim after several calls and text messages, PREMIUM TIMES learnt he denied the destruction of properties attributed to the workers’ protest at that time.
“While it is not true that protesting workers caused damage to the property of the State House of Assembly, we wish to make it clear that we are aware that soon after workers left the premises of the State House of Assembly, allegedly sponsored thugs and hoodlums were sent there by the State government to cause damage to the property with the intention to blackmail workers as unruly people.
“We want to state categorically that workers are decent and law-abiding citizens fully guided by principles of peaceful protest. Our record of peaceful protests is unimpeachable and could be attested to by organisations that monitor our protests. Workers stand to gain nothing by destroying public property.
“And we did not destroy any in Kaduna.
“However, if the government of Kaduna State wishes to profiteer from our peaceful and justifiable protest, it is free to do so but not at our expense. The protest by workers to the State House of Assembly was in the full glare of journalists from nearly all the media houses in Nigeria while security agencies were at hand to ensure law and order,” Mr Wabba said at a press conference in November, 2017.
According to the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, a warrant of arrest to be executed by the law enforcement agency shall be signed by a judge or magistrate.
The state’s Commissioner for Internal Security, Samuel Aruwan, and Mr El-Rufai’s media adviser, Muyiwa Adekeye, have yet to respond to PREMIUM TIMES’s enquiries on further details of the arrest warrant and the court that issued it.
They neither picked their calls nor replied to text messages.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the police in the state, Mohammed Jalige, said he was not aware of any arrest warrant against Mr Wabba.
He then told PREMIUM TIMES to direct the enquiries to the state government which made the claim in the first place.