By Ezinwanne Onwuka
● National lockdown as Nigerian workers begin indefinite work strike
All workers and civil servants affiliated with the Nigeria Labour Congress [NLC] and Trade Union Congress [TUC] stayed off work on Tuesday as a devastating work stoppage rocks Africa’s largest economy. Electricity workers, postal and telecommunications workers, bankers, medical and health workers, maritime workers, and academic staff of tertiary institutions, among others, joined the strike.
The top labour unions, NLC and TUC, last Tuesday [Nov. 7], made their joint plans to withdraw their services today public. But a Nigerian court in the capital city Abuja barred the unions from going ahead with the strike last Friday [Nov. 10]. The workers have defied the court.
TUC President, Festus Osifo, at a press briefing in Abuja yesterday, gave no duration of the strike, but only said the strike would end when “governments at all levels wake up to their responsibility.” Meanwhile, presidential spokesperson Bayo Onanuga has warned the labor unions against disobeying the court order, saying the strike is an “abuse of privilege”.
● Bandits abduct 13 bus passengers in Benue
Bandits waylaid a bus belonging to Benue State Government-owned transport company, Benue Links last Thursday [Nov. 9] and kidnapped 13 travellers. The bus was fully loaded with 16 passengers, but three persons luckily escaped when the bandits struck.
The bus took off from Otukpo, a vibrant commercial town and home of the Idoma-speaking natives, and headed to Makurdi, the capital city of Benue State, only to run into an ambush on the Naka–Makurdi highway. Otukpo is 64 miles from Makurdi.
Kidnapping on the Naka-Makurdi highway is fast becoming a regular occurrence, according to Daily Trust. The newspaper said a couple and their driver were attacked and led to an unknown place at gunpoint in the early hours of Monday.
● Senate to work towards actualization of diaspora voting
The dream of Nigerians abroad to vote in national elections might be actualized sooner than anticipated as the Nigerian Senate is poised to revisit the diaspora voting rights bill later this week.
Nigerians abroad contribute billions of dollars annually to the economy through remittances. The World Bank pegged the figures at $168.33bn for the past eight years yet, they are denied the right to vote.
Lawmakers of the 9th Senate thrashed the diaspora voting bill in March 2022 because the Nigerian law restricted registration and voting to persons residing in Nigeria. Also hopes that Nigeria’s diaspora would vote in the 2023 election were dashed when a court in Nigeria dismissed a lawsuit that sought to allow the same in February.
But Senate Majority Leader Opeyemi Bamidele assured on Monday that the Senate would pass the bill this time around. “We cannot just be so interested in the benefits coming from the Nigerian diaspora community while also denying what is supposed to be your own constitutional right,” he said.
● Nigerian Army kills two bandits in Kaduna
The Nigerian Army on Monday said its troops killed two bandits and recovered arms and ammunition in Kaduna State. Army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Musa Yahaya said the criminals were killed during a clearance operation at Juji and Telele-Kaso villages in Chikun County.
“The bandits who opened fire on sighting the troops approaching their location were, however, overpowered with superior and overwhelming firepower of the troops and two of the bandits were neutralized while others fled in disarray,” Yahaya’s statement read.
One AK-47 rifle, three AK-47 rifle magazines, quantity five of 7.62mm (special) ammunition, and two locally made hand grenades were among the items seized from the defeated gang.
● Gunmen kidnap Professor of Special Education in Calabar
Professor Patrick Egaga who teaches at the Department of Special Education at the University of Calabar in Cross River State was abducted by unidentified gunmen on Sunday night, police authorities confirmed on Monday.
The Professor was taken away from his residence at the university’s staff quarters by canoe. Police spokesperson in Calabar Irene Ugbo said all hands are on deck to track down the criminals and release Egaga unhurt. The PRO of the institution, Effiong Eyo, corroborated the police report.
Ezinwanne Onwuka reports for TruthNigeria from Abuja.