COURT 1 of the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal again on Tuesday, February 2, 2021, denied a request to move an application for leave to appeal against the proceedings of some suits instituted by aggrieved members of the union at the National Industrial Court, Lagos Division.
The three-person Panel of Justices declined the request stating that granting the request will amount to granting the appellants an application for stay of proceedings.
The appeals, which were on January 20, 2021 adjourned to 29th September 2021 for hearing of the motions for leave to appeal as well as for stay of proceedings at the NIC, were abruptly brought forward to Tuesday, February 2, 2021, with the respondents’ counsel getting the information via text last Friday; January 30, 2021.
Mr A. J. Owonikoko, SAN, who appeared for the appellants, sought to move the application for leave to appeal, stating that despite informing the trial court presided by the Honourable Justice (Dr) E. A. Orji, that the appeals have been entered, the court is still insisting on proceeding with hearing of the originating summons on Wednesday 3rd February 2021 (tomorrow).
Mr Owonikoko, SAN prayed the court to hear and grant the application or direct the counsel to appellant respondents who was in court to inform the trial court what the attitude of the appeal court is on the intention to go on with hearing of the originating summons.
However, Mr O. A. Afolabi Esq informed the Panel of Justices that his clients are objecting to the applications and that he has filed counter-affidavits to all the motions in the three appeals.
When asked by the three-person panel whether the lower court can proceed with hearing at the lower court when an appeal is before them, Mr Afolabi Esq submitted by quoting from several authorities, including those of the court of appeal itself, that the trial court can proceed with hearing particularly as the appeal is interlocutory and essentially because the Court of Appeal remains the final court on trade union matters.
Mr A. A. Ologundudu Esq, counsel to the 33rd respondent appellant, Comrade Bamidele Busari, the sacked union’s General Secretary, also told the court that the his client is also objecting to the appellants applications and wish to file his counter-affidavit.
After the brief exchanges, the three-person Panel of Justices adjourned all the appeals to 9th March for hearing of the application.
It will be recalled that at the last sitting of the Appeal Court on January 20, 2021, the three interlocutory appeals were turned down and denied hearing for lack of proper service to the respondent appellants.
The three interlocutory appeals were filed by Comrade Oyelekan and 15 other National officers of NUFBTE were scheduled for hearing before the Appeal Court on a motion seeking the leave of the court to appeal against the August 19th 2020 ruling of the NIC which restrained the Food Union from holding an emergency delegates conference scheduled for 20th August, 2020.
Despite the interlocutory injunction, the union went ahead to conduct the emergency conference between midnight and 3am of 20th to 21st August, 2020. The conference, attended by Comrade Ayuba Wabba, NLC President, but shunned by appropriate officials from the Ministry of Labour and Employment, particularly the Director of Trade Union Services and Registrar of Trade Unions, was marred by violence.