The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has described the death of human rights lawyer, Bamidele Aturu as tragic blow to the labour movement in Nigeria.
According to NLC President, Abdulwahed Omar, in a statement issued on Sunday he said the union received the news of the death of Aturu with utter shock and disbelief. Aturu, until his death, was the only official lawyer of the union. He was a very resourceful ally of the entire labour movement as a consistent comrade who committed his entire adult life to the struggle for a better society.
“Mr. Aturu worked with the NLC on several projects including representing us at the National Labour Advisory Council, NLAC, as well as researches on trade union and workers rights aside consistently standing as our counsel at various civil and industrial courts in different parts of Nigeria at very considerate costs, most times spending his money to fund his transportation. Indeed, Bamidele Aturu did not only represent the Congress and its affiliates, he also represented individual workers whose rights were violated by their employers especially at workplaces where the rights of workers to belong to trade unions were violated.”
Omar further stated that Aturu’s sudden and premature death is a massive blow on the entire trade union movement as one of the most authoritative legal practitioners on labour laws, which he chose to practice exclusively not minding the fact that other areas of his profession were more financially lucrative.
“He midwifed the formation of the National Association of Labour Lawyers to encourage other lawyers, especially young lawyers, to take interest in labour law and the selfless defence of workers’ rights.
Comrade Aturu was among the formidable legal minds who did not only support the struggle against removal of oil subsidy in court, but joined the labour movement in several street protests. In pursuit of this, a court ruled in the suit he filed on October 2009 that deregulation was illegal, unconstitutional, and of no effect whatsoever.
“He was in the front line of the struggle against military dictatorship which led to the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria. We recall in 1988 his courageous rejection of an award as the best member of the National Youth Service Corps in Niger State which was to be presented to him by the Military Governor, Colonel Lawan Gwadabe. Aturu defiantly rejected the award and said he would not shake the hands of a public office usurper or receive an award from a government that was anti-people.
“Aturu stood tall among his peers as a revolutionary, an astute mobiliser, focused activist, and selfless comrade of inestimable value ; and we believe our country has just lost one of her brightest patriot.
“This particular death is painful and a tragic blow to not only the labour movement, but the entire working class movement. We condole with his family, especially his young wife and young children and pray to God to give them the fortitude to bear the loss of their loving father and breadwinner,” Omar said