The National Industrial Court (NIC), sitting in Abuja, on Monday, restrained the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), from embarking on their planned strike to protest the unilateral removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government.
The court, in a ruling delivered by Justice O. Y. Anuwe, barred the two organizations from proceeding with the strike action, pending the determination of a suit that was brought before it by FG.
The court held that the interim order, as well as the substantive suit, should be immediately served on both the NLC and the TUC, which were cited as defendants/respondents in the suit marked: NICN/ABJ/158/2023, even it fixed the matter for hearing on June 19.
The court order followed an ex-parte application that FG filed through the Federal Ministry of Justice.
FG’s lawyer, Mrs. Maimuna Lami Shiru, who moved the application, maintained that the proposed strike action was capable of disrupting economic activities, the health sector and the educational sector.
FG further tendered Exhibits FGN 1, 2 and 3, which were notices from the NLC, TUC and the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, to their members, asking them to withdraw their services with effect from Wednesday, June 7.
The court, in its ruling, held that it was empowered by section 7(b) of the NIC Act, 2006, with the exclusive jurisdiction in matters relating to the grant of any order to restrain any person or body from taking part in any strike, lockout or any industrial action.
It held that sections 16 and 19(a) of the NIC Act 2006, also empowered it to grant urgent interim reliefs.
The court held that the affidavit of urgency as well as the submission of FG’s lawyer revealed: “a scenario that may gravely affect the larger society and the well-being of the nation at large”.
“Counsel has pointed out that students of secondary schools nationwide, especially those writing WAEC exams nationwide, will be affected; the tertiary institutions who have only just resumed after a long ASUU strike will also be affected, not leaving the health sector, amongst other sectors; and above all, the economy of the nation.
“In my view, this is a situation of extreme urgency that will require the intervention of this court,” Justice Anuwe held.
According to the judge, “Having therefore considered the totality of this application, I make the following orders:
“The defendants/respondents are hereby restrained from embarking on the planned Industrial Action/or strike of any nature, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice dated 5th June 2023.
“It is ordered that the defendant/ respondents be immediately served with the originating processes in this suit, the motion on notice and the order of this court hereby made.
“The motion on notice is hereby fixed for hearing on 19th June 2023. Hearing notices to that effect shall be served on the defendants/respondents along with the other processes.”
Prior to the order, the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN, had in a notice that was signed by its General Secretary, M. J. Akwashiki, mobilised its members across the country to withdraw their services from Wednesday.