NIC President admonishes NLC to put its house in order
The President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NIC), Justice Babatunde Adejumo, at the weekend admonished the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to put its house in order. Justice Adejumo gave the advice at the resumed hearing in the case of unlawful termination of employment brought before the National Industrial Court against the NLC by Comrade Onah Iduh, who was until March 2011 the Acting Head of the Department of Information and Public Relations of the NLC.
Justice Adejumo’s counsel came when the case was called and the parties declared their appearance. “I have stated before that it is better to always settle your disputes,” Justice Adejumo said, adding that “you will be a more united front. It is better that you put your house in order. What Nigerians are reading in the pages of newspapers about you [NLC] is not good. At the end of the day, the union will suffer.”
At the resumed hearing, the only defence witness in the matter, Comrade Happiness Okechukwu, an account officer in the employment of the NLC on cross examination based on her sworn witness statement, told the court that she is not conversant with the conditions of service or the constitution of the NLC. When further asked by counsel to the claimant, Emole Orji (Esq.), to state whether the appointment of a staff could be deemed rightly or wrongly terminated, Comrade Okechukwu responded: “I cannot say whether the appointment of a staff is rightly or wrongly terminated. I am not in a position to state whether or not the employment of the claimant in this matter is rightly or wrongly terminated.”
According to Comrade Okechukwu, her involvement in the case was based on the fact that she paid a cheque into the claimant’s account on 14th of July 2011, a couple of months after the termination of the employment of the claimant with the NLC. She said though she could not remember the interval between the termination of the claimant’s employment and the period the cheque was deposited in his account, she however stated that the claimant rejected the amount paid into his account and refunded it by depositing the exact amount into the Zenith bank account of the NLC.
At the end of the cross-examination, Justice Adejumo in consultation with the defence and claimant’s counsel adjourned the matter to August 7, 2012 for the adoption of written addresses on the matter.
It will be recalled that Comrade Onah had approached the National Industrial Court sometime last year asking it to, among other things, make a declaration that the purported termination of his employment with the NLC on the pretext of on-going re-organisation in the NLC was illegal and against the ideals of what the NLC represents. He therefore prayed the court to reinstate him and to grant him costs in the sum of N20 million as damages.