THE Presiding Judge, Enugu judicial division of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, His Lordship, Hon. Justice Oluwakayode Arowosegbe has declared the recognition accorded to Registered Trustees of Association of Tricycle Riders Transport Union by the Enugu State Government who are not members of a registered trade union to operate and regulate the affairs of all tricycle operators and unions in the State, excluding Tricycle Owners Association of Nigeria as illegal, unlawful, and unconstitutional; awarded the sum of Ten Million Naira (10,000,000.00) exemplary damages against the state government and 9 others for undue interference and inhibition of the operations of the Tricycle Owners Association of Nigeria and the infringement of their constitutional guaranteed rights.
The Court held that the Registered Trustees of Association of Tricycle Riders Transport Union, Enugu State had no business by virtue of their incorporation under CAMA, to be in the business of tricycle commercial transportation that the Enugu State Government has no vires whatsoever, to grant it official recognition, much more appointing it to collect levies and dues or revenues from members of the Tricycle Owners Association. `
Justice Arowosegbe also granted an order of injunction restraining the Registered Trustees of Association of Tricycle Riders Transport Union, Government of Enugu State, its Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Commissioner for Police, Enugu State and 8 others, their agents, taskforces, privies and workmen from interfering or in any way whatsoever inhibiting the lawful operations of TOAN and their members in Enugu State of Nigeria.
From facts, the claimants the Chairman, Secretary of the Tricycle Owners Association of Nigeria [TOAN] had submitted that the functionaries/departments of the Enugu State, interfering with their rights, also that the Tricycle Riders Transport Union who is an unregistered rival trade union, enjoying the protection of all the defendants to their detriment that mayhem broke loose on the hitherto peaceful ambience of the operations of their association, that the state commissioner of police descended heavily on them, by impounding their vehicles, compelling them to collect toll tickets, arresting their members indiscriminately and framing them with trump-up charges.
Their learned counsel Chineye Ibiam Esq argued that the mere fact that, an organisation is incorporated under CAMA would not confer it with the status of a trade union because that the 10th defendant is not a registered trade union, and is being treated like one by the other defendants.
The defendants objected that the suit did not disclose a reasonable cause of action against the state government, and the Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the suit that it deals with the fundamental right; and further that the claimants had no vires to challenge their actions that bordered on administrative steps to generate revenue urged the court to dismiss the suit.
Their learned counsel argued that Tricycle Owners Association of Nigeria couldn’t bring actions in which there are exhibits bearing Tricycle Operators of Nigeria that the government of Enugu State is vested with the constitutional power to collect taxes and; therefore, at liberty to appoint any organization or company for that purpose.
In reply, the counsel to the claimants urged the court to assume jurisdiction that courts are enjoined to do substantive justice against technicality.
Delivering the judgment, the presiding judge, Justice Oluwakayode Arowosegbe affirmed court jurisdiction and held that the jurisdiction of the Court as granted by the Constitution not subject to the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules, dismissed the objections for lacking merit.
“Having established that the Registered Trustees of Association of Tricycle Riders Transport Union and its members carried on the trade of tricycle commercial transportation and; is in the protection of the interests and welfare of its members in the trade, and more so, in competition with the TOAN and its members, it is clear that it carried out trade union functions, and not being registered under the TUA, it lacks the vires to carry out these functions.
“Apart from the foregoing, it would even be wrong for the Government of Enugu State to grant recognition to the Tricycle Riders Transport Union in the manner it did, which clearly established a prejudice against the TOAN, contrary to the law forbidden discrimination and unfair industrial relations practices.”
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