Order restraining NLC, TUC from embarking on strike subsists – Court says

Justice Olufunke Anuwe of the National Industrial Court on Monday, June 19, declared that the order restraining the Nigeria Labour Congress ( NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) from embarking on their planned industrial action subsists.

She held that the order as granted on June 5 subsists pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice. The court in addition ordered that parties maintain the status quo and adjourned the matter until July 20, for a hearing.

Earlier, when the case was called, the Federal Government’s counsel, Ochum Emmanuel informed the court that the matter was slated for Monday for the claimant to take its motion on notice for an interlocutory injunction to restrain the defendants from embarking on strike. He added that he was ready to proceed with his application as the defendants had been served.

Marshall Abubakar, the defendants’ counsel on his part, however, replied that they had filed an application praying the court to set aside its order granted on June 5, restraining his clients from embarking on strike. Abubakar further submitted that the claimant was served the application on June 8, only for them to turn around and serve on them a counter-affidavit on Monday in court.

He added that the claimant filed the counter-affidavit on June 16 and instructed the bailiff not to serve them until Monday in court. The court enquired if the defence was properly served before the court, Abubakar responded that he was not certain, but that he will find out and do the needful. He also prayed for a short adjournment to look at the counter-affidavit and respond.

Emmanuel in response opposed Abubakar’s application for adjournment and urged the court to allow him to take his motion on notice which was slated for hearing. The counsel also reiterated that the federal government will never file a process and instruct any bailiff not to serve the other party. He argued that it was probably because he filed the processes late on June 16 that made the bailiff serve defence counsel in court on Monday.

Emmanuel in his submission equally averred that the defendants were not prepared before the court as they had not filed their memorandum of appearance, but only came to urge the court to vacate the order it granted on June 5. In addition, he submitted that if the court should deem it fit to grant Abubakar’s application for an adjournment, the court should equally declare that the order restraining the defendants from embarking on strike granted on June 5 subsist.

In his reply, Abubakar submitted that Emmanuel’s application was not necessary as the court had earlier stated that parties should maintain the status quo pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit. He also informed the court that parties were meeting later on Monday to try and resolve the issue. The court in its ruling granted the application for adjournment, directed the defendants to enter their memorandum of appearance and instructed parties to maintain the status quo.

The NLC and TUC had planned to embark on a nationwide strike on June 7 to protest the fuel subsidy removal that brought about the new pump price for the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS). The federal government had, therefore, instituted the suit to stop the defendants, stating that the proposed strike may gravely affect the larger society and the well-being of the nation at large.