Abuja — The Togolese Government yesterday prevented the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, from travelling to that country for official assignment.
Officials of Asky Airline who stopped the NLC president at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, said they were on instructions to prevent his entry to the West African country.
In a protest letter to the Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd), NLC General Secretary, Peter Ozo-Ezon, explained that such refusal amounted to abuse of the fundamental rights of the NLC president.
He said: "We would wish to bring to your attention a matter we consider to be of national significance for the purpose of your urgent intervention, please.
"In the morning of February 22, 2016, the President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, was prevented from travelling from the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja to Lome, Togo, by officials of Asky Airline.
"Officials of Asky Airline who denied Wabba boarding on account of his tendering an ECOWAS Travel Certificate duly issued by the Federal Government of Nigeria on behalf of ECOWAS, said they were acting on the instructions of the Togolese Government.
"In other words, according to them, the government of Togo, a member of ECOWAS, does not recognise this document." Ozo-Ezon stated that: "Wabba's ECOWAS travel document, as could be attested to from the attached photocopies, was issued on July 16, 2015, and has an expiration date of July 15, 2017. He has used the same document to enter Senegal and Ghana in the past.
"Immigration officials who witnessed this incident said many Nigerians have been subjected to such humiliating experience. "It is curious that at the time of ticket purchase, Asky Airline did not deem it necessary to warn prospective passengers of ECOWAS origin that the Togolese Government does not accept or recognise the ECOWAS Travel Certificate.
"Honourable minister, we are not aware of the fact that the Republic of Togo has withdrawn its membership of ECOWAS. And if it is a subsisting member of ECOWAS, we find it inexplicable that it could mete out this kind of treatment to travelers of Nigerian origin. "We hold the view that Nigerians, wherever they are, are deserving of protection if they act within the law. Wabba was expected at Lome this morning for an activity of ITUC-Africa."
He observed that "the disruption of his travel plan and by extension, denial of his participation at this major activity, has caused him considerable embarrassment as well as constituted a set-back to the Nigeria Labour Congress and Nigeria. "Other Nigerians who have been so similarly treated, no doubt, have suffered various degrees of losses. "In light of the above, we would wish to invite your intervention on this matter, at least, in order to save future occurrences."