IN a bid to stop the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, planned protest on Wednesday, May 17, over the fuel price increase, the federal government has obtained an order restraining labour unions from such exercise.
The National Industrial Court on Tuesday, May 17, ordered the NLC and the Trade Union Congress, TUC, to suspend the planned protest pending the determination of a suit filed by the Attorney General of the Federation challenging the protest.
Justice Babatunde Adejumo, who gave the restraining order, stated that the defendants are restrained from carrying out the threat contained in their communiqué issued on May 14, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed on May 16. “It is the order of this court that status quo be maintained as at 17th May.”
He also ordered that the processes in the case be served on the respondents within 24 hours and that proof of service be filed in the court. “It is the order of this court that none of the parties shall engage in any act, conduct, overtly, covertly on this matter pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice,” Justice Adejumo said.
The judge transferred the case to another judge of the court, saying that he would be engaged at the National Judicial Council and would not be able to take further proceeding on the matter. Adejumo said he preferred that the dispute be resolved amicably but that he was constrained to issue the order exparte because the respondents were not yet before him.
He also said that he granted the order to make sure that people were not subjected to avoidable hardship. “I decided to take this case this morning because it is on an issue that will affect everybody. I don’t want people to be subjected to hardship. There will be scarcity of foods, people may die, students will engage in all sorts of activities. This is why I have to grant this order.”
Abubakar Malami, AGF, who filed the exparte application, said it was in the national interest to stop NLC from shutting down the nation over last week’s increase in price of fuel. He cited Section 14 of the 1999 Constitution as amended to justify his application to stop the strike.
Malami argued that no amount of damages could serve as compensation if NLC is allowed to shut down the economy. He further argued that the balance of convenience was in favour of the government. The minister asked the court to determine, whether the NLC and TUC have complied with the laid down condition precedent for embarking on strike.
The order will end in seven days except it is renewed and whether the labour unions will obey the order is yet to be seen.
— May 17, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT