The National Industrial Court has restrained the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum And Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) from picketing the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Justice Peter Lifu gave the ruling in Abuja on Friday on an ex-parte application filed and moved by the CBN’s counsel, Mr Ahmed Raji (SAN), seeking to restrain NUPENG, PENGASSAN, Dr Ahmed Isah and Mr Paul Edeh, who are joined as respondents, from picketing his client.
The respondents were joined in the suit for themselves and for the “Berkete Family,’’ over their threat to disrupt the operations of the CBN over alleged non-payment of the outstanding salaries and terminal benefits of its members who were disengaged by Seawolf Oil field Services Limited.
Justice Lifu held that the jurisdictional mandate of the court was to dispense labour justice with speed, with a firm view of creating industrial harmony in the workplace.
“I am convinced that the application is one of urgency and worthy of consideration. The law is well settled on this issue of interim injunction as being sought in this instant case.
“I have also considered the issue of balance of convenience, that is, who will suffer more if this application is refused.
“The defendants are hereby restrained either by themselves, or through their agents, privies, servants, members or anybody acting on their instruction or on their behalf from disrupting, picketing, blocking, parading themselves or in any other way or manner disturbing the normal business operation of CBN nationwide, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.’’
Lifu further held that CBN’s unique status in the Nigerian economy, coupled with the current reforms and the economic agenda of the current government “makes it imperative that this kind of application accords with core value of this court, which is to create industrial harmony.’’
The Judge also granted leave to the CBN to issue and serve the suit’s originating summons on NUPENG and PENGASSAN at their offices in Lagos outside the court’s jurisdiction immediately.
The Street Journal recalls that Seawolf Oil Field Services Limited, due to its non-performing loans with a bank, was acquired by Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) in 2014.
AMCON refused to pay the outstanding benefits of disengaged staff after acquiring the company, thereby, engendering the protest by the oil workers’ unions.
AMCON Act was signed into law on July 19, 2010, and the corporation was established to revive the financial system by efficiently resolving the non-performing loan assets of the banks in the Nigerian economy.
The CBN, in line with its overall supervisory functions through AMCON, is empowered to provide a myriad of functions intended to improve the liquidity of the toxic assets.
The judge adjourned the case till Aug. 13, 2015, for hearing.