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Regd. Trustees, C.S.S.T. v. C.O.E., Kogi State

THE REGD. TRUSTEES OF CONFERENCE OF SECONDARY SCHOOL TUTORS

V

HON. COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION, KOGI STATE

TEACHING SERVICE COMMISSION, KOGI STATE

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION, KOGI STATE

ATTORNEY-GENERAL, KOGI STATE

NIGERIAN UNION OF TEACHERS, KOGI STATE

COURT OF APPEAL

( ABUJA DIVISION )

IBRAHIM TANKO MUHAMMAD JCA ( Presided )

VICTOR AIMEPOMO OMAGE JCA (Read the Lead Judgment)

MARY PETER ODILI JCA

CA/A/212/03

WEDNESDAY, 26TH OCTOBER, 2005

ACTION - Constitutional right - Claim to - Precedence of over other claims

APPEAL - Issues before the court - Status of - Necessity of to be related to the facts before the court - Propriety of counsel relying on facts when arguing points of law

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW - Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 - Supremacy of

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW - Trade Disputes Act, Cap. 432 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990 - Whether inconsistent with 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria


COURT - National Industrial Court - Jurisdiction of under the Trade Disputes Act, Cap. 432 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990

COURT - Regular courts - When subject matter of suit is within their competence to declare a constitutional right - Primacy of the court adjudicating over

FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS - Freedom of association - Right of individuals to

JURISDICTION - Determinant of - Plaintiff’s claim as

JURISDICTION - National Industrial Court - Jurisdiction of under the Trade Disputes Act, Cap. 432 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990

STATUTE - Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 Supremacy of

STATUTE - Trade Disputes Act, Cap. 432 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990 - Jurisdiction of National Industrial Court thereunder

STATUTE - Trade Disputes Act, Cap. 432 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990 - Whether inconsistent with 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Application - Points of law - Counsel relying on facts while arguing - Propriety of

TRADE DISPUTE - State trade dispute - Definition of WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘State trade dispute’ - Definition of

Issues:

1.              Whether section 2(A)(1) of the Trade Dispute (Amendment) Act, Cap. 432 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990  as amended by Decree No. 47 of 1992 is inconsistent or in conflict with sections 1(1)(3), 215 and 272 of the 1999 Constitution and if so what is the legal function.

2.              Whether the High Court of Kogi State has jurisdiction to hear and determine the appellant’s suit.

3.              Whether the relief in the originating summons arises from a

trade dispute.

4.              Whether the reference made in the Trade Dispute ( Amendment) Act as amended by Decree No. 47 of 1992 to the 1979 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) also extends to the 1999 Constitution as held by the trial Judge in his ruling of 27th May, 2003.

5.              Whether a preliminary objection on point of law can accommodate argument and submission of facts.

6.              Whether the High Court of Kogi State is bound by the Supreme Court’s decision as settled issue.

Facts:

The appellant which was the plaintiff before the High Court of Kogi State consists of members and officers of the Incorporated Trustees of Conference of Secondary School Tutors of Nigeria. It sought several declaratory and injunctive orders, which included a declaration that it has a civil right to exist and does exist from the date of its incorporation; an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents by themselves, agents or servants from further deduction of check-off dues from the salaries and wages of its members unless expressly authorized by them individually in writing; a declaration that any deduction without the approval or consent of the appellant in writing is unlawful and therefore, refundable; a declaration that the 5th respondent, the Nigerian Union of Teachers, Kogi State is not entitled to any check-off dues deducted from salaries of the appellant’s members from April, 2002; a declaration that the appellant’s members have a right to choose to join any union of their choice without interference by the 5th respondent; a declaration that appellant’s members are entitled to a reimbursement of all deductions made from their salaries amounting to over N400,000.00 (four hundred thousand naira) being amount deducted without the express consent of the appellant’s members from April, 2002 and an order of court directing the respondents to deposit with the registry of the court the sum deducted from the appellant’s members’ salaries pending the determination of the case.

The 1st - 4th respondents jointly entered an appearance while the 5 th respondent entered appearance separately. Each group of respondents filed a notice of preliminary objection to the jurisdiction of the Kogi State High Court to adjudicate on the claim on the grounds that the dispute was a trade dispute within the jurisdiction of the National Industrial Court.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the trial court in its ruling held that the claims of the appellant are rooted in and emanated from trade disputes or intra union disputes which only the National Industrial Court can adjudicate upon.

Dissatisfied with this ruling, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.