Court Fines TUC, PENGASSAN N10m For Contempt


Justice Rabiu Gwandu of the Lagos division of the National Industrial Court (NICN) has dismissed the case filed by the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions, and Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASSBIFI ) and 9 Others against Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) challenging the enforcement of agreements and resolutions reached and ratified at the 11th Triennial Delegates Conference held on June 28, 2019 at NAF Center Abuja for lack of proof.

Justice Gwandu held that the purported agreement relied upon by the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions and Others were not tendered in evidence, and the resolution adopted via video never told the specifics of the terms of same, as the full facts are not within the purview of the Court.

However, the Court faulted the TUC and PENGASSAN on disobedience of court orders, and ordered them to pay N10m as penalty into the account of the Court Regi

The claimant, Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions and Others had sought an Order of the Court mandating, directing and compelling the TUC, PENGASSAN to immediately enable them produce and assume the office of the President of TUC for the year 2022 to 2025 in line with the agreements and resolutions reached and ratified at the 11th Triennial Delegates Conference of the Union held on June 28, 2019 at NAF Center Abuja.

In defense, the second Defendant, PENGASSAN filed a notice of preliminary objection on the grounds that the suit is not properly constituted as the claimant have no locus standi to institute the action and the suit does not disclose any reasonable cause of action or a justiciable dispute to activate the jurisdiction of the Court.

However, the Claimants countered the defendants opposition and averred that they are all members of the TUC and were involved in the Conference where the alleged resolutions were adopted, and cannot be barred from participating in the suit.

The learned Counsel to the ASSBIFI argued that the relationship between his clients and the TUC is not a mere domestic agreement but a valid and legal obligation, and urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.

In addition, PENGASSAN again filed an application praying the Court for an Order setting aside the proceedings of July 6, 2022 together with the bench ruling and Order of Interlocutory injunction granted the Claimants on the grounds that the Bench Ruling with the Order of injunction is scandalous, and the Order of Injunction was made in grave error of Law as well as misrepresentation and concealment of material facts by the Claimants, and against public policy and administration of justice.

The defendants maintained that the purported agreements and resolutions and the minutes of the meeting where the understanding were reached are not exhibited.

Counsel to the PENGASSAN submitted that the TUC’s constitution is supreme and the national officers of the union must be elected during the NDC notwithstanding any agreement or resolution that may have been reached to favour any candidate, and urged the court to dismiss the case.

Delivering judgment after careful evaluation of the submission of both parties, the presiding Judge, Justice Gwandu dismissed the PENGASSAN’s objections for lacking merit and berated the Counsel for referring to the bench ruling and Order of injunction granted by the Court which the Association flagrantly disobeyed as scandalous.

Justice Gwandu fumed that the defendant’s Counsel, a senior member of the Bar, should know and be privy to the fact that his statements are highly disrespectful to the Honourable Court and described such statements as uncouth and unprofessional.

The judge also ruled that the claimants failed to prove to the Court that when agreements are reached and same are expected to have a binding effect on parties, such agreement is reduced to paper and signed with each party being aware of its obligations to such an agreement, the resolution as seen via the video does not outline the full details of any obligations that may or may not arise from it.

Consequently, the e Court ordered the TUC and PENGASSAN to pay costs of N5 million each as a penalty for disobeying a valid Order of Court, same is to be paid to the account of the Chief Registrar of the Court.

“…it is disheartening that Counsel would be present when the Order of this Court was disobeyed, Counsel also had the duty to have informed my Brother Judge in Abuja that there existed a prior Order which they were present when it was made, but they chose to be silent and use that contradicting Order to their advantage, this does not show good faith on the part of Counsel to the Defendants.” The Court ruled.