The National Industrial Court of Nigeria sitting in Abuja yesterday counselled the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and its sacked General Secretary, Comrade John Ejoha Odah, to explore further opportunities for settlement of the dispute out of court. The court, presided over by Justice Babatunde Adejumo, was billed to begin hearing in a five hundred million naira case of unlawful termination of appointment and defamation of character brought before it by Odah against the NLC and three others.
However, Comrade Odah’s counsel, Pius A. Akubo, SAN, told the court that the parties in the matter were not able to hold any meeting after the first meeting following the court’s admonition at a sitting earlier in the year. He therefore urged the court to give parties in the case more time to enable them to explore further opportunities for a possible amicable resolution in the interest of trade union unity in the country. Counsel to 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants corroborated the submission saying settling the matter out of court is in the interest of all parties.
Justice Adejumo granted the prayer and adjourned to July 17 and 18, 2012 for report on the outcome of the settlement. He equally stated that if at the next date the differences were not resolved as expected, hearing will then begin.
It will be recalled that that Comrade Odah had approached the National Industrial Court sometime in September last year asking it to, among other things, make a declaration that the purported termination of his appointment as General Secretary of NLC on the pretext of on-going re-organisation in the NLC was “a ruse, reckless, manifestly in bad faith, unlawful and illegal as well as a pungent anti-thesis of what the NLC stands for and represents.” He is therefore seeking reliefs of the court reinstating him to the position of General Secretary of the NLC as well as granting him costs in the sum of N500 million as damages.
Odah’s sack is currently tearing the NLC apart as some industrial unions opposed to his removal are threatening to pull out of the NLC to form a new labour centre.
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