Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has denied allegations by the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) that he planned to proscribe NUPENG.
The minister, in a press statement on Tuesday by the ministry’s spokesperson, Rhoda Iliya, described the allegation as ‘cheap and unconscionable lies’.
NLC had on Monday asked Ngige to withdraw a letter written to NUPENG, which allegedly directed the union to submit its financial returns within 72 hours.
Part of the statement on Tuesday read: “On 13th May, 2019, a letter was written by the Department of Trade Union Services and Industrial Relations (TUSIR) of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, precisely by the Registrar of Trade Union to both the NUPENG and Trade Union Congress (TUC).
“The letter drew the attention of the Unions to the non-rendition of their financial returns for the years 2017 and 2018.
“The letter directed that the unions should comply according to the provisions of Sections 40 and 37(i) of the Trade Unions Act of 2004.”
“The NUPENG and TUC being in breach of this Section 37(i), the Registrar of Trade Union invoked Section 40 of the Trade Unions Act Cap T.14(LFN) 2004, which gives the Registrar of Trade Union powers to request that all the books of accounts of defaulting unions be submitted to the Registrar for further scrutiny to make for accountability in the management of the unions’ funds.
“It is evident that the ministry was only carrying out its statutory functions. NUPENG was not singled out, neither was it asked to provide only the annual report of 2018 as they had conducted their 2019 conference.
“The ministry therefore wishes to state that the minister has no intention of proscribing NUPENG or any Union whatsoever, though constitutionally empowered to do so if need be.”