Don’t intimidate union leaders, workers with police, traditional ruler tells National Theatre mgt

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The Traditional ruler of Otumara community in Lagos mainland of Lagos State, High Chief Kehinde Kalejaiye, has cautioned the management of the National Theatre to desist from using the police force to intimidate and harass workers of the parastatal especially the union leaders.

Kalejaiye gave the warning following the arrest and detention of Comrade Habib Usman and Comrade Monday Alonge, Chairman and Secretary of the Radio, Television, Theatre and Arts Workers’ Union of Nigeria, (RATTAWU), National Theatre chapter respectively by policemen attached to the Special Enquiry Bureau (SEB) of the Force Criminal Investigation Department Annex, Alagbon, Ikoyi, Lagos,

The unionists, according to the traditional ruler, were arrested having been petitioned against by the General Manager of the parastatal, Prof Sunny Ododo for condemning the attitude of the management towards the welfare of the workers.

The union through petitions written to the Minister for Arts and Culture and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, dated March 6th and October 4th, 2023 alleged unfair, unjust and one-sided disciplinary actions against its member and thus demanded for the immediate suspension of the General Manager.

Consequently, the management through a letter issued and signed by the Director, Human Resources Department, Agbo Ita, for the General Manager, invited Comrades Usman and Alonge to the FCID, Alagbon, for interrogation.

Kalejaiye queried the arrest and subsequent detention of the union leaders while describing it as unwarranted and undeserved.

While condemning the act, he wondered when the FCID, Alagbon becomes the disciplinary arm of the National Theatre saddled with the responsibility of arresting and detaining vocal union leaders and workers.

He however implored the Minister of Art, Culture and Creative Economy, Hajia Hanatu Musawa to intervene before it further degenerates into a crisis situation.

Speaking on the consequence of such tyranny on the workers, he said, “It would affect the level of productivity of the workers and also the activism of the union leaders. If any worker or even the union or its leaders are found wanting, one would expect the management to set up a fact-finding panel to investigate the alleged wrongdoings and then come up with their recommendations.

It is out of place for the management to handover its workers to the police when no criminal act has been established against such workers. The workers are in fear of who could be the next victim of persecution.

We are all stakeholders in the Nigerian project. We want a better Nigeria and that is why we should endeavour to do what is right at all time.

To this end, I want to appeal to Minister Hanatu Musawa to investigate into this matter and ensure fairness, equity and probity is attained.”

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