Court fines nut N250,000 in case against Oyo govt

•Grants request for suit withdrawal •TUC threatens mass action

Ruling in the case between the Oyo State government and labour movement on the legality or otherwise of the ongoing strike, the National Industrial Court sitting in Ibadan has fined the third defendant in the case, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), the sum of N250,000 for beating the court bailiff that went to serve papers in the case.

Justice F. I. Kola-Olalere, in her ruling, on Tuesday, said investigations showed that one Makinde was manhandled at the NUT office where he went to serve the court papers.

She argued that the action of the NUT contravened Section 145 of the Criminal code act, and constituted an affront on the judiciary, and the assaulted court officer had to be compensated.

Kola-Olalere, however, accepted the plea by counsel to the third defendant, Waheed Olajide, that the fine be paid in a month’s time, August 12, 2016.

Ruling on the main suit, the court also granted the application of the claimant, to withdraw the suit, NICN/IB/62/2016, challenging the legality of the strike action declared by the labour movement on June 6, 2016.

Counsel to the third defendant, NUT, Waheed Olajide, had on June 23, objected an oral application by the claimant for the withdrawal of the suit, arguing that his client had joined issues with the claimant by filing a preliminary objection on June 22, 2016.

Quoting Order 19, Rule 17 of the National Industrial Court rules on “Discontinuance or withdrawal of cases,” Olajide also argued that the claimant failed to give his party or the court a notice of the discontinuance or withdrawal in writing.

In her ruling, Justice F. I. Kola-Olalere maintained that though the claimant erred in complying with Order 19, Rule 17, the third defendant was unconvincing in showing what harm the oral application had caused it.

She, therefore, invoked Order 5, Rule 3 of the court rules on not insisting that the claimant must withdraw the suit in writing, and therefore, struck out the case.

Kola-Olalere’s ruling read, “The only wrong is that the claimant did not give notice of discontinuance or withdrawal in writing to the court or to the other party.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Oyo State has decried the living condition of workers in the state, vowing to embark on mass action if the situation persisted.

The TUC Chairman, Mr Emelieze Andrew, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan, on Tuesday, that urgent steps must be taken by states and the Federal Government to tackle the development.

He also said TUC would embark on a mass protest at the expiration of a 15-day ultimatum it issued on Monday.

Lamenting that the economic challenges were biting hard on Nigerian workers, Andrew advised governors finding it difficult to pay salaries to rise up to the challenge or consider resignation.

The third defendant has not succeeded in showing any harm that this wrong has cost it. As a matter of fact, the first and second defendant, that is, NLC and TUC, are not objecting to the withdrawal of the case but only the third defendant, that is, NUT, and without any convincing reason. It is my holding therefore that the interest of justice will be better served if the provision of Order 5, Rule 3 of the NIC rule is invoked. Consequently, I hereby invoke the provision of Order 5, Rule 3 of NIC rules 2007 by departing from the provision of Order 19, Rule 17 of the NIC rules 2007 and not insisting that the claimant must withdraw this suit in writing.”

“In addition, because the claimant’s application to withdraw this suit was done orally before the defendant entered appearance and filed their defence, I hereby exercise my discretion by allowing them to so move that application orally.

Therefore, the objection of the third defendant to the oral application to withdraw this suit is hereby overruled and dismissed. And, the claimant’s application to withdraw this suit is accordingly granted and the case is hereby struck out.”

Meanwhile, a new suit is to be instituted against the three defendants, NUT, TUC and NLC, and three others with the Oyo State government, Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice as claimants.