The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has confirmed the sealing of the Rivers State Secretariat of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) over alleged leadership crisis rocking the body.
The spokesman of NSCDC, Rivers State Command, Olufemi Ayodele, while confirming the incident yesterday, said the action followed intelligence report that the NLC state Chairman, Mrs. Beatrice Itubo, was using the Secretariat for political meetings.
Ayodele, who noted that the command has the mandate to protect critical state assets and infrastructure, the Corps got information that there was a fracas between the Labour Union and its leader, who is currently a Labour Party gubernatorial candidate.
According to him, it was alleged that Itubo was using the union secretariat as a meeting point, saying that the Labour Union is taking the stand that they are not fraternising with the party.
Ayodele, who said the corps, was only out to maintain law and order, said, “As a result of preventing unforeseen circumstances occurring between the two. They called on us to seal up the place for the moment as the labour union executive and members were not using the premises. So, it is preferable for the security to take over the place.
“One of the very salient mandate of the NSCDC is to monitor trade unions. So, we are there to protect critical national assets and infrastructure in that premises.”
The Guardian learnt that armed operatives of the corps stationed an operational van at the entrance of the NLC secretariat and denied access to officials, who wanted to have an emergency meeting at the office located on Ibukwu Street in the D/Line axis of Port Harcourt.
Also, members of the Union were not allowed into their secretariat by the operatives who said their action was to prevent a breach of the peace.
It was learnt that some NLC members in the state had asked the state Chairman, Itubo to step aside, after she emerged as the governorship candidate of the Labour Party in the state ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The aggrieved members also urged her to handover to Mr. Emechete Chukwu, who is the state Chairman, Joint Action Committee of the NLC, but the former insisted that she remained the chairperson of the body in the state.
Meanwhile, the NLC state executive has condemned the takeover of its secretariat by the security outfit and expressed displeasure at the level of desperation of some of its members to forcefully take over power from Itubo.
Reading a communiqué at the end of its meeting in Port Harcourt, the state NLC Secretary, Alade Mathew, condemned what he termed a desperate attempt by some of its members to subvert the extant leadership of Itubo.
Mathew called on the security outfit to immediately withdraw its men from the state secretariat to enable members to carry out their duties without hindrance.
He said, “The SEC in session is abashed with the level of desperation by those involved by way of forging signatories of innocent members to be part of the despicable act and resolve to commence as in-depth investigation to establish the criminal aspects of the action
“The SEC in session equally frown at the use of security agencies to lock out members of the NLC from carrying out its operational activities and implore the state Commissioner of Police, the Director, SSS and the Commandant, NSCDC, to immediately take all necessary measures to withdraw the armed men stationed at the NLC secretariat,” he stated.
The state executive council also passed a vote of confidence on its chairperson, Beatrice Itubo. He explained that the law allows Itubo to retain her position as the chairperson of the state NLC, despite her emergence as the governorship standard bearer of the Labour Party in the state.
But the state administrative council of the NLC said it would not allow for its secretariat to be used for party politics.
Chukwu who claimed to be the acting chairperson called on politicians to use their campaign offices for political activities and not the labour house.