IN THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT OF NIGERIA
IN THE ABUJA JUDICIAL DIVISION
HOLDEN AT ABUJA
BEFORE HIS LORDSHIP, HON. JUSTICE R.B.HAASTRUP
DATE: OCTOBER 07, 2019 SUIT NO.NICN/ABJ/295/2019
IN THE MATTER OF TRADE UNIONS ACT
IN THE MATTER OF INTER UNION DISPUTE
IN THE MATTER OF NATIONAL ASSOCIATION
OF NIGERIA NURSES AND MIDWIVES
1. Mr. John Musa
2. Mrs. Nkwoka Christiana Ifeyinwa Applicants
1. National Association of
Nigeria Nurses and Midwives
2. Comrade Deborah John Yusuf
The Chairman of NANNM FCT Council
3. Mr. Sadus Habila Ezekiel Respondents
Deputy General Secretary
FCT NANNM Council
4. The Honourable Minister for Labour
5. The Registrar of Trade Union
Lucky Okpeahior appeared with Atabo Noah for the claimants/applicants.
The claimants/applicants have filed this Ex-parte application, which is dated and filed the 30th day of September, 2019. The application is brought pursuant to Order 17 Rules 1 (1) and Order 17 Rules 2-3 of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (Civil Procedure) Rules, and under the inherent jurisdiction of the Court. The claimants/applicants are by this application praying the Court for the following orders:
1. An order of interim injunction restraining the respondents, their agents, servants, privies, or any persons acting for them from conducting the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and midwives State Election for October, 2019 to October, 2023 Tenure for NANNM FCT Council’s Executives schedule to hold on the 8th day of October, 2019 pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed before this Honourable Court.
2. And for such further order(s) as the Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.
The claimants/applicants have relied on their 40 paragraph affidavit, deposed to by Mr. Musa Madaki John, the 1st claimant/applicant in this application, with the annexure to application marked as Exhibits 1 – 8; and written address also filed in support of application dated 30th day of September, 2019. In the written address, counsel for the claimants/applicants argued a sole issue which he formulated for determination, thus:
“Whether the applicant is entitled to the reliefs sought in the motion paper.”
Counsel for applicants relied on the cases of 7 UP Bottling Co. vs. Bishop Abiola (1995) 4 NWLR (Pt.389) 289; Kotoye vs. CBN (1989) 1 NWLR (Pt.98) 419 @ 441; Orji vs. Zaria Ind. Ltd (1992) 1 NWLR (Pt.216) 124 SC, regarding the factors that need to be established by an applicant to enable the court exercise its jurisdiction in granting an interlocutory injunction. The factors are reproduced by counsel as follows:
1. Existence of a legal right
2. The strength of applicant
3. Preservation of the res or status quo
4. Balance of convenience
5. Subsisting action and relief
6. Undertaking as to damages
Counsel submitted that the applicants herein are members of the 1st respondent who have paid their subscriptions and dues and the applicants’ rights to protect the aims and objectives of the 1st respondent’s Constitution is guaranteed by Article 111 ( C) of the 1st defendant’s Constitution attached as Exhibit 5 to the affidavit in support, and that this court has the powers to restrain the respondents from an act or further acts that would further infringe on the applicants’ rights as enshrined in the 1st respondent’s Constitution.
It is his further submission that the applicants herein have shown that the application is not frivolous or vexatious and there is a serious question also to be tried, with the possibility of success at the trial; relying on Exhibits 1-8 in support of the application. That it is expedient that the application be granted by the Court such that the subject matter of the litigation is kept in status quo between the parties; as the applicants have been denied the opportunity to contest for any elective post and even the opportunity to vote for other competent members of the 1st defendant, as a result of the 2nd respondent occupying four union posts.
Counsel further submitted that where the application is not granted by the Court, the applicants would suffer more inconveniences or hardship, and the respondents would suffer no hardship at all. That the act of the defendants not complying with the provisions of the 1st respondent’s constitution cannot be compensated by award of damages and this Court has the power to further restrain them from further violation of the 1st defendant’s constitution and the Trade Unions Act pending the determination of the substantive suit. Counsel then submitted that the applicants have satisfied the requirement on undertaking regarding damages, referring to paragraph 38 of supporting affidavit; urging the Court to exercise its discretion judicially and judiciously in favour of the applicants.
I heard learned counsel to the applicants and have perused all the processes filed regarding this application, including the affidavit of urgency in support of the application. The position of the law is that an interim injunction by its nature, which is usually made ex-parte, is meant to take care of urgent and other contingent situations which ordinarily would not have been handled by the ordinary judicial process. The application must thus disclose a situation of real urgency, which has not been shown here. The election which the claimants/applicants are by this application seeking a restraining order, i.e. State Election for October, 2019 to October, 2023 Tenure for NANNM FCT Council’s Executives of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and midwives, is scheduled to hold on the 8th day of October, 2018. Meanwhile the application was filed 30th day of September, 2019, just few days to the said election. In my humble view, the applicants have not shown or exhibited any urgency to warrant the grant of this application, and I so hold.
Again, the applicants have not placed sufficient convincing materials before the court to show that they would suffer more inconveniences or hardship should the application be refused. It is my respectful view therefore that the respondents be put on notice, such that the court will be in a better position to determine the motion on notice on its merits. More so, by Section 18 of the National Industrial Court, Act, 2006, this Court has such powers to grant an injunction restraining any person who acts in an office in which he is not entitled to act, from so acting and the Court may (if the case so requires) declare the office vacant. In the circumstance, the application is consequently refused, as I hereby order that the defendants/respondents be accordingly put on notice, and be served with the claimants/applicants’ motion on notice, with all other processes filed in this action before the next date fixed for hearing of the motion on notice, and the matter shall also be given an accelerated hearing.
Ruling is hereby entered.
Hon. Justice R.B.Haastrup