Court orders FUNAAB VC, others not to meddle in NASU activities

Justice J.D. Peters of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), Ibadan, Oyo State, has restrained the vice-chancellor (VC), Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State, and others from taking disciplinary action against eight non-teaching staff of the institution over their membership of a union.

The judge gave the ruling in the suit “NICNIB/71/2021” instituted against the Governing Council and the FUNAAB’s VC, Prof. Felix Salako, by the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) in reaction to the plan by the VC to make them face a disciplinary committee.

The claimants, via originating summons dated October 26, 2021, asked the court to determine whether the action of the VC to stop them from joining the union does not contravene Section 40 of the Constitution and make such undertaking unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful and ultra vires.

They also sought the court’s interpretation to decide whether the imposition of an undertaking not to take part in the union as eligible members is not a violation of their fundamental rights.

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The originating summons was supported by a 14-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Edvri Samson and a written address.

In response to the suit, counsel to the defendant filed a notice of preliminary objection, prayed the court to dismiss the suit on the ground that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain and adjudicate on the case.

Delivering judgment in the suit, Justice Peters held that the purported query issued to the claimants was a gross violation of their fundamental rights as provided for by Section 40 of the Constitution and declared the action null, void and of no effect whatsoever.

The judge declared that the setting up of a disciplinary committee to enforce an undertaking not to take part in any union action with disciplinary action is illegal null and void.

Justice Peters ordered the second defendant to withdraw the query issued to Onogwu James and any other member of NASU.

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The court also disbanded the investigation committee set up to investigate the eligible members of the claimant.

The judge also restrained the VC from interfering or meddling with the internal affairs of the applicants in whatsoever guise whether in term of membership or running its affairs.

“A perpetual injunction is here issued restraining the first defendant or its servants, agents and privies from intimidating, threatening, or victimizing any of its worker (s) who participate or actually participated in trade union activities with the claimant’s union.

“The respondent are ordered to pay the cost of this action assessed at N200, 000 only to the applicant. All the terms of this ruling shall be complied with immediately. Ruling is entered accordingly,’’ Justice Peters ruled.

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