By Bimbola Oyesola
Former expelled president of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Innocent Bola Audu, with other expelled members and some retired staff of the union, on Friday, forcefully took over the national secretariat of the union in Lagos, with the support of some unidentified police officers.
According to the secretary-general of the ASCSN, Alade Bashir Lawal, the incident, which took place at 4.50 p.m., Friday, October 21, 2022, saw the expelled members forcefully gaining access to the secretariat after the close of work and carting away sensitive documents, including cheque books, computer items, cash, and so on.
“Bola-Audu and his cohorts, in company of thugs, cultists, and fake security operatives, invaded the ASCSN national secretariat, broke doors to various offices claiming that the court had given them order to invade the ASCSN national secretariat, and vandalize the entire office,” the ASCSN secretary-general alleged.
Lawal, in a press statement, regretted that Bola-Audu, who is standing trial in an Abuja court for alleged human trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable persons, is moving about freely and endangering the lives of the national secretariat’s staff of the union who are facing constant harassment.
He alleged that on the 5th and 22 August, 2022, Bola-Audu organized similar invasions with hoodlums and, but for the intervention of the police and restraint exercised by the staff, innocent employees of the union would have been murdered.
“As we write, nobody knows what Bola-Audu and his gang want to do or are already doing with the union’s cheque books, valuables and other sensitive documents now in their possession,” the statement added.
The union said since Bola-Audu was arrested on 22nd February, 2021, in Abuja by the operatives of the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), he has continued to accuse the leadership of the Association of not ordering the teeming members of the union in Abuja to troop to the streets to prevent NAPTIP from prosecuting him for alleged human trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable persons.
“Given the grave nature of the offence for which he is still facing trial, the leadership of the union advised Bola-Audu to step aside as national president so that the union could explore proper channels to ensure that he gets fair hearing.
“Instead of heeding this advice, Bola-Audu insisted that thousands of members of the Association in the Federal Capital territory should occupy the offices of NAPTIP and the federal secretariat so that his trial could be forestalled,” the statement read.
It added that since the national leadership of the association declined to pander to his wish, Bola-Audu resorted to anti-union activities including invading the national secretariat of the association in Abuja and Lagos, writing to banks to frozen the union’s banks accounts to paralyze its activities.
The union said, “Bola-Audu also wrote to the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, the Minister of Labour and Employment, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, all Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) proclaiming himself as the National President of the Association knowing full well that he has been suspended and later expelled by relevant organs of the Union namely the Central Working Committee (CWC) and the National Executive Council (NEC).
“As at today, Bola-Audu has been suspended from the Civil Service and banned from entering his office at the Treasury House because he is facing criminal charges of human trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable persons and instead of lying low, he thinks he can use force to bulldoze his way back to power.
“It should be emphasized that Labour Unions are democratic organizations and as such the organs of the union still need to meet and take appropriate decisions even if he gets reprieve in the courts.”
The ASCSN however implored elders and strategic stakeholders of the Association to prevail on the former president to stop endangering the lives of innocent staff of the Association by invading the National Secretariat of the Association in Lagos and Abuja.
“Bola Audu should be strongly advised to leave the Association alone,” the statement stressed.
The Secretary General, in a telephone interview with Daily Sun Workforce said the matter is in court and the union will be in court on Monday, October 24, 2022, noting that the former president was just pre-emptive of what the decision of the court would be.
But the former president, Innocent Bola Audu, also in a telephone interview claimed he had legal backing from the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos to take over the secretariat with the order directed by the Inspector General of Police and the Commissioner of Police in Lagos was properly briefed as well.
He said he was acting on the interim order of the injunction granted on September 13, when the case came up for hearing at the Federal High in Ikoyi, Lagos.
He denied looting the secretariat, claiming that there were no cheque books and only one computer that was not working was what he met at the secretariat.
On NAPTIP and prosecution for alleged human trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable persons, Audu said it was a personal matter, “what has it got to do with my union and place of work. It has not been proven, what is the hurry calling for me to step aside, is that in our constitution?”.
Audu also claimed that he is still a full fledged staff of the ministry where he works and has no issue with his employer.