A federal high court has ruled that the minister of labour has a right to rule on industrial dispute.
Honourable Justice Simisola Adeniyi of the National Industrial Court in Abuja, has struck out a suit filed by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN).
The suit was filed against Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN) in an action seeking to stop the Minister for Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, from sitting over an industrial dispute.
The matter came up for hearing on Monday, July 2, 2018.
The dispute between PENGASSAN and MPN commenced in 2016 and was referred to the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP).
Counsel to MPN, Professor Fabian Ajogwu, SAN, in response to the suit of PENGASSAN filed by Mr. Rudy Ezeani, Esq, had argued that the process of judicial review by way of an order of certiorari or prohibition, enables a superior court to review the record of an inferior judicial or quasi-judicial authority in order to determine the legality of a decision reached by such an authority.
Right of fair hearing not breached
Counsel further submitted to the Court that the prerogative writs could not apply in the circumstance as prayed by PENGASSAN, as the powers of the “Minister conferred by section 9 of the Trade Dispute Act are unqualified executive powers and not judicial or quasi-judicial powers and the exercise of same cannot be subject to the process of judicial review”.
The Court agreed with the submissions of Counsel to MPN and dismissed the suit on the basis that the act of the Minister in referring the trade dispute to the Industrial Arbitration Panel, was done in due exercise of statutory powers conferred on him by the Trade Dispute Act and the Trade Dispute (Essential Services) Act and was not an exercise of judicial or quasi-judicial powers.
The court further held that PENGASSAN’s position that its right of fair hearing was breached by the Minister in the exercise of his statutory powers, was misconceived and inapplicable in the circumstance as the Minister has the unfettered right to make such referrals without recourse to both parties.
All of PENGASSAN’s prayers in its Originating Motion dated May 25, 2017 were refused and the matter was dismissed.