FEPPPAN demands immediate registration from Labour Minister as court dismisses NUP suit

SOME pensioners, under the aegis of Federal Parastatals and Private Sector Pensioners’ Association of Nigeria (FEPPPAN), have called on the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, and the Registrar of Trade Unions, to immediately register their association as a trade union.

Their call followed a pronouncement by the National Industrial Court, Abuja; which dismissed a suit filed by the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) against the Minister of Labour and Employment and the Registrar Trade Unions to stop them from registering a new pensioners association or union because there is an existing union of pensioners catering for the interests of all pensioners.

The judgement, delivered on April 3, 2019, simply stated that the prayer of  NUP is tantamount to stopping the Minister and the Registrar from carrying out their statutory responsibility.

However, the court did not expressly stated that the Minister should register FEPPPAN in its pronouncement but emphasized the power of the minister to register trade unions, if all due process is followed.

Justice Sanusi Kado, who delivered the judgement, stated that the Minister and the Trade Unions Registrar has the powers to register a new trade union/association, saying that the intent of the suit was nothing but to prevent an arm of government from performing its statutory function.

While saying that the NUP suit lacked merit and deserved to be dismissed, he described it as “premature and academic exercise and is hereby dismissed.”

He said: “In the case at hand, the claimant (NUP) has not shown that the 1st and 2nd defendants (the Minister of Labour and Employment and the Registrar Trade Unions) have no power to receive application for registration of trade union or that of request for reorganization. It has not also been shown that the 1st  and 2nd defendants have failed or neglected to exercise their statutory power. Rather what the claimant is seeking is to stop the 1st and 2nd  defendant from performing their statutory function.”

According to a statement made available to journalists at a press briefing in Abuja and signed by Interim National President and General Secretary of FEPPPAN, Chief Temple C. Ubani and Franklin O. Erinle, respectively, the  Association said that the NUP suit was intended to prevent the Minster and Registrar of Trade Unions from registering their association, FEPPPAN.

The statement read in part: “At this juncture, we clearly want to state that our move and intent in forming the new pension center is within the ambience of the Trade Union Act, which is the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that oversees all issues concerning trade union/association as the case may be.

“Upon our earlier application to the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment for the registration of a new pensioners’ center, NUP kicked against it, and in a desperate move , instituted a court case against the Minister of Labour and Employment and the Registrar of Trade Unions in which Comrade Temple Ubani of Electricity Sector; who is the Interim President General of FEPPPAN was joined, praying the court to restrain the above organs  of Government from considering our application for registration as a new pension union.

“Consequently; we are urging the Minister of Labour and Employment to immediately grant approval for the registration of FEPPPAN by the Registrar of Trade Union without further delay.”

Responding to the court pronouncement, the NUP, through his Head of Admin, Comrade Bunmi Ogunkolade, said the interpretation of the court judgement is left to the minister to interpret.

He pointed out that the union did not said that the Minister should not perform his responsibility of registering a trade union, but must followed due process and the law in doing so.

He hinted that the Trade Union Act clearly stated that where a trade union exist before, you cannot register another one, while some members of a union cannot just rise up to say they are forming another union.

To this end, he insisted that what they are pointing out is that the minister cannot register another pensioner union, when there is an existing one.