IN THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT OF NIGERIA
IN THE ABUJA JUDICIAL DIVISION
HOLDEN AT ABUJA
BEFORE HIS LORDSHIP: HON. JUSTICE Z. M. BASHIR
Dated: 24th day of August, 2020 SUIT NO: NICN/ABJ/210/2020
TRANSCORP HOTELS PLC---------------------------CLAIMANT/APPLICANT
1. HOTEL AND PERSONAL SERVICES
SENIOR STAFF ASSOCIATION
2. NATIONAL UNION OF HOTELS
AND PERSONAL SERVICES WORKERS----------------------DEFENDANTS
Esther Bassey for the Claimant
No representation for the Defendants
Claimants commenced this suit by filing an originating summons on the 19th of August 2020 wherein one question is set out for determination and pursuant to which four reliefs are being sought for by the Claimant.
The Claimant filed along with the said Originating summons, a Motion Ex-parte brought pursuant to Order 17 Rules 14(1) and Order 21 Rule 1 of the National Industrial Court Civil Procedure Rules 2017 and under the Inherent Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court.
The said Motion Ex-parte is seeking for the reliefs as contained on the motion papers and same is also accompanied by a23 paragraphed affidavit deposed to by OlayemiAfolabi with 7 exhibits and a written address.
The Claimant/Applicant also filed an 11 paragraphed affidavit of urgency deposed to by the same OlayemiAfolabi.
The highlight of the facts upon which the prayers contained in the motion ex-parte were sought, as can be gathered from the affidavits filed in support of the motion ex-parte is that, the deponent posited that the Applicant is aware that the Defendants are going round the country to stir their members to picket, declare a strike and violently disrupt the operations of the Claimant. He added that the Claimant had from time to time met with the Defendants to discuss measures taken to cushion the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic and has scheduled a meeting for the 18th of August, 2020 to discuss with the Defendants over business interruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic and at no time has management of the Claimant taken any decision to lay off any member of the 1st and 2nd Defendants but notwithstanding, the Defendants are embarking on a nationwide drive to mobilize their members with a view to storm Abuja where the Claimant operates to picket and there after declare a strike.
Based on the foregoing facts the Claimant posited that the feelers from the various offices of the Claimant is that they are already fidgety over the intended actions of the Defendants and unless restrained, the Defendants will disrupt the business operations of the Claimant.
Upon the consideration of the foregoing facts and the arguments of Esther Bassey, Counsel to the Claimant/Applicant as canvassed via the written address filed in support of the motion ex-parte and adumbrated in the course of moving the said motion ex-parte, the sole question before this court is whether or not this application is meritorious and whether this court should grant same.
To consider the merit of this application, it is poignant to bear in mind that same is made ex-parte and that calls for caution as the Courts have admonished in the case of Itama v. Osaro-Lai (2000) 1 NWLR (Pt.661)515 to the effect that:
"It has been said over and over again that trial Courts should be reluctant to make interim orders ex-parte unless the circumstances are exceptional and the opposing party cannot be put on notice." Per OGEBE, J.C.A.(Pp. 11-12, paras. G-A).
In the light of the foregoing, it is imperative for this court to ascertain whether or not there are exceptional circumstances which would warrant this court to grant the reliefs sought.
Furthermore, it is worthy of note that the Courts have also highlighted conditions necessary to be considered in the grant of an ex-parte and one of such conditions as noted by the court in the locus classicus case of Kotoye v. CBN (1989) 1 NWLR (Pt. 419) is that “interim injunction can be made when there is real urgency but not a self-induced or self-imposed urgency”. The Court added that: “Although it (ex-parte order) is made without notice to the other party, there must be a real impossibility of bringing the application for such injunction on notice and serving the other party”.
On the strength of the foregoing, I have taken a careful review of the facts upon which the Claimant predicated the ex-parte order of interim injunction sought before this court, which by relief 1 is for an order to restrain the Defendants from acting in any way or manner or taking any step to interfere with business operations of the Claimant at its head office, place of business located at Transcorp Hotel situate in Abuja or any of its branches in Nigeria either by means of picketing or declaring a strike action pending the hearing and determination of motion on notice. In this regard, I find that there is no specific date fixed for the alleged picketing or strike action which would inform this court of the imminence of a real urgency to thereby propel this court to restrain the Defendants.
Most importantly, I have evaluated the exhibits annexed to the motion ex-parte and I cannot find any document buttressing the fact that the Defendants are organizing a picketing or strike action.
The implication of the absence of any specific pointer to a date when the alleged picketing or strike is to take place makes same a mere speculation and it is imperative to note that this court cannot grant an interim order on mere speculation. In this regard, the court in the case ofIsah v. State (2007) NWLR (Pt. 1049) 582 at 614, Paras. B - C (CA) posited that:
“A trial court must not base its decision on speculation and extraneous matters not supported by the evidence before the court as this will occasion miscarriage of justice. In other words, the court's findings must be supported by concrete and real evidence and not speculation. See Onuoha v. State (2002) 1 NWLR (Pt. 748) 406; Agholor v. State (1990) 6 NWLR (Pt. 155) 141; Oshodin v. State (2001) 12 NWLR (Pt. 726) 217; Onyirimba v. A-G., Bendel State (2002) 11 NWLR (Pt. 777) 83”. Per Augie JCA
Having said that, upon a consideration of the entirety of all the facts deposed in the affidavit in support of the motion ex-parte and the affidavit of urgency, I am of the considered view that there is no urgency whatsoever warranting the grant of an ex-parte order.
With regards to relief two which is for an order granting leave to the Claimant to issue and serve the Originating process in this suit on the 1st and 2nd Defendants in Lagos (outside the jurisdiction of this court), I reckon that the Claimant/Applicant presented no fact with respect to the said relief, however, I take into account the fact that the Counsel to the Claimant/Applicant urged the court to grant the reliefs sought upon the adumbration made in the course of moving the said application and upon the consideration of the fact that the relief sought is to put the Defendants on notice and make them aware of the pendency of this suit, the said relief 2 has merit and is accordingly granted by this court.
Consequently, the instant application is meritorious only in the extent to which relief two has been granted while relief one lacks merit and same is accordingly refused.
Ruling is accordingly entered.
HON. JUSTICE Z. M. BASHIR