Fuel subsidy removal: Court stops NLC, TUC’s plan to go on strike

The National Industrial Court in Abuja on Monday gave an order restraining members of the organised labour under the umbrella of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) from proceeding with their plan to embark on strike.

NLC, TUC and their affiliates unions have planned to embark on nationwide industrial action from June 7 over the removal of fuel subsidy that jerk price of fuel from N174 to N537 per litre

Justice O. Y. Anuwe issued the order on Monday while ruling on an ex-parte motion filed by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) which was moved by Mrs. Maimuna Lami Shiru, Director Civil Litigation, Federal Ministry of Justice.

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 on 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 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 for 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 as defendants, the NLC and TUC, 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, lock out or any industrial action or any conduct in contemplation or in furtherance of strike, lock out 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.

She added: “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 ruled.