The National Industrial Court on Tuesday stopped ?the Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress from embarking on their planned strike over the increase in fuel price by the federal Government.
The labour unions had threatened to commence a nationwide strike on Wednesday.
Justice Babatunde Adejumo gave the restraining order after the Attorney General of the Federation, and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, argued an ?ex parte application in which the prayer for the order was contained.
Justice Adejumo ruled, “The defendants are hereby restrained from carrying out the threat contained in their communique issued on May 14, 2016 pending the hearing and determination of the ?motion on notice filed on May 16.
“It is the order of this court that status quo be maintained as at May 17?.”
The order being an interim one will last for seven days, although it is subject to renewal.
The judge also ordered that the processes in the case be served on the respondents within 24 hours and that proof of service be filed in the court.
“It is the order of this court that none of the parties shall engage in any act, conduct, overtly, covertly on this matter pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice,” Justice Adejumo added.
The judge transferred the hearing of the substantive case to another judge of the court on the grounds that he would be engaged at the National Judicial Council when the matter would be deemed for hearing.
The judge said although he would preferred that the dispute be resolved amicably, he was constrained to issue the ex parte order because the respondents were not yet before him.
He also said that he granted the order to make sure that people were not subjected to avoidable hardship.
He said ,”I decided to take this case this morning because it is on an issue that will affect everybody. I don’t want people to be subjected to hardship. There will be scarcity of foods, people may die, students will engage in all sorts of activities. This is why I have to grant this order.”
Malami, while moving the ex parte application, said it was in the national interest to stop NLC from shutting down the nation over last week’s increase in price of fuel.
He cited Section 14 of the 1999 Constitution as amended to justify his application to stop the strike.
Malami argued that ?no amount of damages could serve as compensation if NLC was allowed to shut down the economy.
He further argued that the balance of convenient was in favour of the government.
Malami said that labour met on Saturday and issued a communique wherein it gave government a three-day ultimatum to reverse the decision increasing fuel price.
He further told the court that NLC had threatened to shut down the country if government failed to reverse the fuel price increase.
He told the court that the respondents had threatened to close down all government offices, seaport, airports and markets.
He contended that ordinary and law abiding citizens would be subjected to hardship if the respondents were allowed to go ahead with their threat.
Malami argued that the government was left with no alternative but to seek the intervention of the court.
He said that he got notice of the communique on Sunday and quickly filed an originating summons, together with motion on notice and an exparte application to determine whether NLC’s decision was justified in the circumstance.
Among other questions put before the court, Malami asked the court to determine, “Whether the respondents (NLC, Trade Union Congress) have complied with the laid down condition precedent for embarking on strike?.
“Whether indeed there exist in law and in fact the basis of which the respondents’ total closure of the economy can be justified.”