The National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja on Monday restrained members of the organised labour under the aegis of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) from proceeding with their planned strike scheduled to commence from Wednesday, June 7, 2023, in protest against the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government.
Justice O. Y. Anuwe issued the order while ruling on an ex-parte motion filed by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) which was moved by the Director of Civil Litigation, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Maimuna Lami Shiru.
Justice Anuwe said the order shall remain in force pending the hearing and determination of a motion on notice dated June 5 which was filed by the Federal Government through the office of the AGF.
The judge said her action was informed by the argument by the Federal Government’s lawyer that the strike if allowed, will occasion incalculable damage to the nation.
She said: “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 defendants/ 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.”
The suit marked: NCIN/ABJ/158/2023 has the NLC and TUC as respondents, while the Federal Government of Nigeria and the AGF are listed as the claimants.
Justice Anuwe, in the ruling, said the applicants pointed out that the proposed strike action is capable of disrupting economic activities, the health sector and the educational sector.
She said by Section 7(b) of the National Industrial Court (NIC) Act 2006, her court is empowered and indeed is clothed with 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 or any conduct in contemplation or in furtherance of a strike, lockout or any industrial action.
The judge added that Sections 16 and 19(a) of the NIC Act 2006 also empower this court to make orders or grant urgent interim reliefs.
“The urgency enumerated in the affidavit of urgency and in counsel’s submission reveals a scenario that may gravely affect the larger society and indeed the well-being of the nation at large.
“Counsel has pointed out that students of Secondary Schools nationwide, especially those writing WAEC exams 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 in her ruling.
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