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We are ready to be killed; no Kokori, no NSTIF board, NLC insists

THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) says it would not rest on its agitation until the board of National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) is inaugurated with a former labour leader, Frank Kokori as its chairman.

This was the stand of the Central Working Committee (CWC) of NLC at the end of its emergency meeting in Abuja on Thursday after its leaders were attacked by suspected thugs at the residence of Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige on Wednesday.

A communique issued at the end of the meeting which was made available to The ICIR said failure by the minister to inaugurate the board with the appropriate person as its chairman would invite more protests.

While challenging the Federal Government to come out clean about unresolved issues around the Trust Fund, the Congress demanded the arrest and prosecution of the thugs and their sponsors since they are well known

On its planned protest on Monday, May 13, in Abuja against the brutalization of its members by the thugs believed to be loyal to the minister, the labour union said it has directed its members and civil society allies to commence immediate mobilisation.

The Congress said its members were “ready to be killed by the thugs hired by Dr. Ngige or security agents who maintained a complicitous silence while defenceless workers were being mowed down.”

It also demanded an unconditional and unqualified apology from the government both for the primitive behaviour of its minister and its suspicious silence.

The Congress pointed out that while the Vice President, Yemi Osibajo found it necessary to step out of his car to address indigenous communities which were protesting against the forceful acquisition of their land by the military, the Minister resorted to recruiting thugs to engage workers.

“The CWC resolved to hold Dr. Chris Ngige personally responsible for the violence visited on the workers and injuries that they suffered, noting that he has sown a seed of violence,” NLC said in the communique.

“The CWC also resolved to send his name to all airports, train stations, shipping ports and all public entry and exit point around the world in other to have visited upon him protest and disgrace for his ignominious role in the violence unleashed against workers.”

The NLC in February decided to picket the Minister of Labour and Employment house if he failed to inaugurate the NSITF board on or before May 1, 2019.

Crisis started after President Muhammadu Buhari approved the replacement of Kokori Austin Enajemo-Isire, and appointing the former as the Chairman of the Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies, MINILS, Ilorin, Kwara State.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Labour and Employment on Thursday vowed never to allow  Kokori to head the NSITF board.

Kokori is the preferred choice of the NLC for the job, but Ngige said no matter the resort to “blackmail” by the NLC, he would not approve of Kokori because he (Kokori) was not a “proper” and “neutral” person to hold the office.

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