The National Industrial Court of Nigeria sitting in Lagos has stopped the 7th Triennal National Delegates Conference of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) scheduled to hold from October 3rd to 5th, 2021 in Umuahia, Abia State.
The court ruled on a motion ex-parte filed by Soji Amosu and Ayokunle Ewuoso, the Chairman and Secretary of Ogun State Council of NUJ respectively.
The court also restrained members of the Credentials Committee of the Union and other respondents from performing, aiding or executing any act for the purposes of conducting any election into the national offices of the NUJ pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.
The court further restrained the respondents and their agents from interfering with the offices of the applicants.
The presiding judge, Justice I. G. Nweneka, who delivered the verdict on August 27, 2021, however, adjourned hearing into the matter to September 13, 2021.
The respondents in the suit marked NICN/LA/310/2021 include Mr Garuba Muhammed (Chairman, Credentials Committee), Mr Victor Ndukwe (Secretary, Credentials Committee), Mr Ladi Bala, Mr Yisa Zuni, Mr Leke Adegbite, Mr Kenneth Offerman, Mr Emman Ogbeuwe, Mr Emmanuel Ibrahim and Mr Victor Udu.
Other respondents are the NUJ, Mr Chris Isiguzo (NUJ President), Mr Shuaib Usman Leman (NUJ National Secretary), National Executive Council (NEC) of the Union, Mr Wale Oluokun and Credentials Committee.
A copy of the court ruling obtained on Thursday by our correspondent showed that the applicants’ motion was brought pursuant to Order 22 Rules (1) and (2) of the National Industrial Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2017 and under the inherent jurisdiction of the Honourable court.
The application was supported by a 36-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Soji Amosu, the first applicant.
The applicants had sought three prayers from the court. They relied on all the deposition in the affidavit in support as well as Exhibits A to J together with the written address containing the applicants legal submissions in urging the court to grant the interim injunction.
The reliefs included “an Order of interim injunction restraining the 1st to 10th Respondents jointly and severally by themselves, their agents servants, privies, officers or any person however described from performing, aiding and or executing any act for the purposes of conducting any election into the National Offices of the 10th Respondents, pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.
“An Order of this Honourable Court granting an interim injunction restraining the Respondents jointly and severally, their privies, servants or agents from interfering with the offices of the Chairman and Secretary of the Ogun State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, presently being occupied by the Applicants as recognized by the judgment of this court delivered by Honorable Justice J.D. Peters, attached as Exihibit A in the affidavit in support of this application, as it related the National Delegates Conference of the 10th Respondents coming up between the 3rd to 5th of October, 2021, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice already filed in this suit.
“An Order of the Honourable Court directing maintenance of the status quo and suspension of all actions, proceedings, steps, processes relating to the National Delegates Conference of the 10th Respondents fixed to come up between the 3rd to 5th of October, 2021, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice already filed in this suit.”
Upon hearing the motion ex-parte filed by Shileola Agunbiade Esq, counsel to the applicants, the judge thereafter ordered as prayed.
“The interim order shall subsist for 14 days. This motion on notice dated 23/8/2021 is adjourned to Monday 13/9/2021 for hearing before the next vacation judge,” Justice Nweneka ruled.
It will be recalled that the National Industrial Court of Nigeria sitting in Ibadan on February 24, this year, affirmed the election of Comrade Soji Amosu as the duly elected Chairman of Ogun NUJ.
The court, in suit number NICN/IB/85/2019, also affirmed the election of Comrades Kunle Olayeni, Kunle Ewuoso and Abiodun Taiwo as validly elected Vice Chairman, Secretary and Assistant Secretary of the union respectively.
The court held that the purported annulment of the March 29, 2019 election which brought the claimants into office was illegal and against the NUJ constitution.
It also granted seven of the eight reliefs sought by the applicants and awarded a cost of N200,000 against the respondents.
Amosu and three others had dragged the NUJ President, Comrade Chris Isiguzo, the NUJ National Secretary, Comrade Shuaib Leman, and 12 other defendants, challenging the purported decision of the union’s national leadership to nullify the election of the claimants.