ABUJA, Nigeria – In a stunning development today, the Federal High Court issued an interim order restraining the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) from proceeding with their planned strike set for Wednesday. Justice O. Y. Anuwe granted the order, which will remain in effect until the motion on notice is determined. Further hearing has been adjourned until June 19.
The court case, bearing suit number NICN/ABJ/158/2023, was filed by the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation & Minister of Justice against the NLC and TUC. The absence of the parties in court was noted during the proceedings.
Representing the claimants/applicants, Maimuna Lami Shiru (Mrs) from the Federal Ministry of Justice argued for an order of interim injunction to prevent the defendants/respondents, their members, and affiliated individuals from engaging in any form of industrial action or strike until the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction is heard and determined.
The court’s decision to grant the order was based on the potential disruptions that the proposed strike could cause in various sectors, including the economy, health, and education. Notices from the NLC and the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) were presented as evidence, highlighting the intended withdrawal of services from June 7.
Under the National Industrial Court Act 2006, the court has exclusive jurisdiction to grant orders restraining individuals or bodies from participating in strikes, lockouts, or any conduct related to industrial action. Sections 16 and 19(a) of the same Act empower the court to issue urgent interim reliefs.
Given the urgency conveyed in the affidavit and counsel’s submissions, which detailed the significant impact on students, the health sector, and the nation’s economy, the court concluded that immediate intervention was necessary.
Consequently, the Federal High Court issued the following orders: 1) The defendants/respondents are prohibited from proceeding with the planned industrial action or any form of the strike until the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed on June 5, 2023. 2) The defendants/respondents must be promptly served with the originating processes, the motion on notice, and the court’s order. 3) The motion on notice is scheduled for hearing on June 19, 2023, with the defendants/respondents to receive hearing notices along with other necessary documents.
This development will undoubtedly have significant implications for labor relations in Nigeria, and it remains to be seen how the NLC and TUC will respond to the court’s order.