The Vacation Judge, Lagos Judicial division of the National Industrial Court, His Lordship, Hon. Justice Isaac Essien has dismissed the preliminary objection filed by the National President- National Union Of Food, Beverage And Tobacco Employees, Comrade Lateef Oyelekan and 18 others challenging the jurisdiction of the Court to hear the matter brought by Comrade Abiodun Philip and 29 others for lacking merit.
The Court held that an intra union dispute which relates to the interpretation and application of the constitution of the union can be filed in the court and the court is vested with original jurisdiction to hear and determine the matter.
From facts, the Applicant had filed a preliminary objection sought for an order striking out/dismissing the suit for want of jurisdiction on the grounds that the case is an intra-union dispute which must be subjected to the provisions of the Trade Dispute Act, that the subject matter has been apprehended by the minister of Labour and Employment and the suit discloses no reasonable cause of action and also abuse of court process.
In response, Comrade Abiodun Philip and 29 others argued that by the content of the affidavit and the prayers sought for in the originating summons, the suit discloses a reasonable cause of action urged the court to dismiss the objection.
In his ruling, the presiding Judge, Justice Essien held that where the subject matter of intra union dispute revolves around or relates to the interpretation and application of a trade union constitution, that the court has original jurisdiction to hear any suit brought in that respect.
“It is, therefore, logical to say that intra union dispute cannot be brought to this court in its original jurisdiction. However, once the intra union dispute relates to the interpretation and application of the constitution of a trade union, S.2(1) of the Trade Dispute Act must bow to the superior authority of the constitution, this leads us to what was the subject matter of the originating process.”