The National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), on Monday, declared that the order restraining the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress(TUC) from embarking on their planned industrial action still subsists.
Justice Olufunke Anuwe stated that the order granted on June 5 still subsists, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice. She also ordered that parties maintain the status quo and adjourned the matter till July 20, for hearing.
Earlier, when the case was called, counsel to the Federal Government, 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.
The defendants’ counsel, Marshall Abubakar, 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 a counter-affidavit on them in court, on Monday.
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 proceedings, Abubakar responded that he was not certain, adding that he will find out and do the needful.
He also prayed for a short adjournment to look at the counter-affidavit and respond.
But Emmanuel opposed Abubakar’s application for adjournment and urged the court to allow him 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.
He further 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 subsists.
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.
Ruling, Justice Anuwe granted the application for adjournment, directed the defendants to enter their memorandum of appearance and instructed parties to maintain the status quo.
Recall that the defendants had planned to embark on a nationwide strike on June 7, to protest the fuel subsidy removal which increased the new pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol, from N195 to about N500.
The government subsequently 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.
The claimant in addition stated that the strike is capable of disrupting economic activities, which will affect, especially the health and the educational sector.