By Bose Odu
Foremost human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana SAN has said that the 3rd Alteration to the constitution carried out by the National Assembly in 2011 has vested the National Industrial Court with the jurisdiction and power to deal with any matter connected with or pertaining to the
application of any international convention, treaty or protocol ratified by Nigeria with respect to labour, employment, workplace, industrial relations or matters connected therewith as well as international labour standards.
This disclosure was made by Mr. Falana while delivering the 2019 annual lecture of the Michael Imoudu National Institute of Labour Studies at Ilorin, Kwara Srate last week Friday. Irohinoodua was there.
The event which was chaired by Justice Iyabode Kola-Olalere .who represented the President of the National Industrial Court, Justice Benedict Kanyip was attended by the Chairman of the Institute’s Governing Council, Comrade Frank Kokori, General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Emmanuel Okechukwu and the country representative of the Director of ILO Country Office, Mr Dennis Zulu.
Mr. Falana said that section 254 (C) of the Constitution has radically amended and created a new labour law regime in Nigeria. He said that section 12 of the Constitution which provides that treaties have no force of law in Nigeria unless they are domesticated and enacted into law by the national assembly has ceased to apply to ILO conventions and other labour related treaties.
The human rights lawyer urged Nigerian workers to take advantage of the revolutionary constitutional amendment to enforce their rights guaranteed by the Constitution, African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on civil and political rights as well as International Covenant on social, economic and cultural rights.
Mr. Falana lauded the judges of the national industrial court for deciding labour matters in line with the provisions of the ILO conventions and international best practices. He cited a number of cases against sexual harassment, discrimination against women and other unfair labour practices in which the rights of workers to dignity have been upheld by the national industrial court.
Mr. Falana pointed out that the failure of any employer of labour to pay the minimum wage of N30,000 minimum per month constitutes a criminal offence punishable under the National Mininum Wage Act, 2019. Instead of going to Abuja to beg for bailout to pay salaries, state governments should demand for the immediate review of the Revenue Allocation Fornula
and the allocation of oil blocks to the federal and state governments alone in line with section 44 of the Constitution which has vested the mineral resources of the country in the Federal Government on behalf of the Nigerian people.