It will be illegal for states to determine what they can pay as minimum wage, activist-lawyer Mr Femi Falana (SAN) has said.
According to him, minimum wage was deliberately placed in the exclusive legislative list to ensure uniformity in application.
Falana was the guest speaker at a tweet conference/roundtable to make the International Day to end Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (IDEI) 2018.
It was organised by the International Press Centre (IPC) as part of the Nigerian Journalists Internet Rights Initiative (NJIRI) implemented by IPC with the support of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX).
Falana told reporters: “I have heard arguments that every state should be allowed to determine what they can pay. But all the governors earn the same salary apart from allowances and security vote.
“All legislators earn the same no matter where they come from. Every Senator earns about N15million per month. So on the ground of equality, that argument cannot be sustained.
“Secondly, labour and industrial matters are in the exclusive legislative list, deliberately so. Otherwise, you’ll have starvation wages and state government that will not pay salaries at all,” he said.
Falana said it was only when it involved addressing the terrible living conditions of the poor that the government talks about inflation.
According to him, the government does not cry about inflation when duty waivers running into hundreds of billions are granted to the rich, when legislators breach the constitution to fix their salaries and allowances by themselves, or when a few rich Nigerians owe billions in unpaid loans.
“You must also understand that this is a class matter. The members of the ruling class, regardless of political parties, are one and the same when it comes to addressing the problems of the poor.
“So the legislators who earn N15million believe that if you increase minimum wage from N18,000 to N30,000, there will be inflation. So, the government can pay if it wants to pay,” Falana said.
The Senior Advocate, in his lecture, said it was illegal and unconstitutional to parade suspects before the media.
Such suspects, he said, are forced to confess to crimes when they have not been charged with any offence, adding that only the poor are usually paraded while the rich who commit more heinous crime are not.
“The Nigerian Union Journalists (NUJ) can resolve not to cover any parade of suspects by the Police,” he said.
The SAN, who enlightened journalists on media laws, said no journalist can be charged under the law of sedition, as it was “dead”.
Urging journalists to enforce their rights when violated, Falana regretted that damages awarded by courts are class-based because, according to him, “we’re operating a bourgeoisie legal system”.
He said he was challenging a provision in the Sheriffs and Civil Processes Act which requires that a litigant awarded damages against the government must first get the attorney-general’s fiat to initiate garnishee proceedings against the same government.
Falana urged the NUJ to deal with the menace of quack journalists, regretting that “in Nigeria everybody is a journalist.”
On law of libel, the SAN said retracting a defamatory story does not remove the writer’s responsibility in law.
He said a retraction and apology can only reduce the damages if given the same prominence as the original story, which he said can lead to the court awarding “nominal” damages.
Media Rights Agenda Executive Director Mr Edetaen Ojo urged media organizations to do more to protect journalists. “Do media organizations train reporters on safety?” he asked.
At the event were journalists, activists, bloggers, among others.