THE FCT Police Command on Friday deployed a large detachment of its officers and men to secure the National Secretariat of the Nigeria Civil Service Union (NCSU) as the recently court-appointed Public Trustee effectively takes over the union.
Reliable sources at the NCSU National Secretariat at No. 174, House 8, Makeni Street, Wuse Zone 6, Abuja intimated National Record early on Friday of heavy police presence saying that the entire stretch of Makeni Street was blocked for several hours and allowing only very few entrants who were able to provide evidence of either living around the area of working there.
Our findings indicate that the seemingly extreme security measure by the police may not be unconnected to the subtle antagonism sensed Thursday last week when the National Industrial Court-appointed Public Trustee, Mr Monday O. Ubani, Esq., officially reported at NCSU’s No National Secretariat in Abuja.
A highly placed source at the secretariat who pleaded anonymity for fear of repercussions for not being authorised to speak on behalf of the union said the Trustee rightly felt he was not welcomed when he came to the secretariat for what was meant to be official inaugural ceremony for his three-month tenure.
A day after the preliminary meeting, officials from the 37 councils of NCSU held a brief open air meeting on Makeni Street where they appealed to the President of the NIC to review the court’s judgment which led to the appointment of the Public Trustee.
The NCSU’s Kano State Council chairperson, Comrade Kabiru Inuwa, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues said the union had already entered an appeal against the judgment.
“The union’s attention has been drawn to the appointment of a Public Trustee by the National Industrial Court on the judgment on suit No. 31/2016. The union wishes to state categorically that it has since appealed the judgment and ruling at the Federal Appeal Court on Appeal No. 10/89/2019.
“We’re sincerely sure it is not within judicial proceedings to appoint a trustee to the union when the appeal process is still pending at the appeal court. We are appealing to the Honourable President of the National Industrial Court to critically look at the facts of the matter and review this appointment in the interest of justice,” Comrade Kabiru stated.
While the union did not use the press conference to issue threats against the takeover, reliable sources confirm that the Public Trustee must have received intelligence that some members of the deposed leadership of the union were secretly mobilised thugs to resist the full takeover by the trustee subsequently.
“When the trustee came last week, he only came to introduce himself but after he left, the leadership structure of the union from across the country met a day after. With that development, the trustee was not sure if the leadership was not going to foment trouble. That must have informed today’s huge mobilisation of the police to ensure that he takes complete control. We do not know if this is going to be a daily occurrence for the next three months or more but clearly, it is not going to be funny for both staff and members of the union,” a reliable source confided in National Record.
It will be recalled that the Honourable Justice B. B. Kanyip, President of the National Industrial Court formerly appointed Mr Ubani, Esq., of Ubani & Co., via an appointment letter, dated 29th December, 2020, sequel to an Order contained in the judgment delivered on 25th October 2019 by His lordship, the Honourable Justice Sanusi Kado of the Abuja Judicial Division of the NIC in the suit between Comrade Benson Ekasa and 1 other v. Comrade Kiri Mohammed (the then National President of NCSU).
In the appointment letter, which was exclusively obtained by National Record, Justice Kanyip had stated that: “Pursuant to Section 19 (c) of the National Industrial Court Act, 2006; Order 59 of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (Civil Procedure) Rule, 2017 and the Order Contained in the Judgment delivered on 25th October, 2019, by His Lordship, Hon. Justice Sanusi Kado, in the above subject matter suit, I hereby appoint you, Monday o. Ubani, Esq. as the Public Trustee for the Nigeria Civil Service Union [herein after referred to as the “Union”] for an initial period of three (3) months, effective from the date of your acceptance of the appointment, on the following terms:
“1. To oversee and superintend the running of the administration and finances of the union.
“2. To convene National Delegates Conference of the National Civil Service Union and organize election to elect new executive members in line with the constitution of the Union.
“3. To render account of your activities within the above specified period in a report to be forwarded to the Court immediately after the expiration of the tenure.
“4. To forward a copy of the report to the Honourable Minister of Labour.
“5. In the event that you are not able to conclude your assignment within the three months period stated above, you may apply for re-appointment for another three months. In this event, you shall be requested to provide satisfactory reasons why you may be so re-appointed.
“Please note that you are only eligible for re-appointment for another term of three months, and not more.
“6. Your remuneration with respect to the appointment shall be the same amount as payable to the General Secretary of the Union.”
Is there really an appeal?
Although the union continue to argue that it had appealed the matter, sources conversant with the litigation reveal that though the union appealed the matter but the appeal was thrown out because it (the union) failed to seek the NIC’s leave before embarking on the appeal therefore making it a nullity.
According to the source, the trial judge, Justice Sanusi Kado, had made the point clear with regard to the court’s lack of knowledge of any appeal when stated in the judgment on the substantive suit on 25th October, 2019 that since the interlocutory injunction of 1st November, 2018, there exist “no legally elected executives” of the NCSU “in the eyes of the law; since the recognized executive members of the union have had their tenures expired.”
“In order not to allowed [sic] vacuum to exist in the running of the affairs of the 2nd Defendant [NCSU] due to lack of duly elected executives, it is within the power of this Court and in fact its duty and obligation to make consequential orders in the interest of justice and fairness.
“In the circumstance of this case, I hereby pursuant to section 19 of the National Industrial Court Act 2006 and Order 59 of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2017, make order for appointment of a Public Trustee to oversee the administration and finances of the 2nd Defendant for a period of three Months.
“The Public Trustee shall organize and convene National Delegates Conference of the 2nd Defendant to elect new executive members for the purposes of running the affairs of the union in line with its Constitution.
“At the conclusion of his assignment the Public Trustee to be appointed vide this order shall report back to the Court on the assignment entrusted to him.”
For now, the question in the minds of many members is whether the ousted leadership as well as members and veterans of the union will grant the Public Trustee sufficient support for him to peacefully administer the union and conduct elections into all elective positions within three months so that the interregnum will not unduly linger.
Efforts to speak with the union’s General Secretary, Comrade Idris Ndako, failed as he said he said he was in a meeting on three occasions when this reporter called him. He also failed to respond to text messages sent to him as at the time of going to press.