The National Industrial Court in Lagos yesterday restrained the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) from holding its delegate’s conference, pending the determination of a substantive suit before it.
The court made the order following a suit against PENGASSAN, by two plaintiffs, Messrs John Nwanosike and Jonathan Omare, over an alleged breach of their rights.
The plaintiffs, who are members of the Chevron branch of the association, are seeking an order, restraining the defendants from holding any delegates’ conference, pending determination of the suit.
Joined as defendants in the suit are:
PENGASSAN, its Chevron Branch, Mr. Esanubi Frank and Mr. Ayanate Kio.
The plaintiffs had initially filed the suit before a Federal High Court in Lagos, but had filed a notice of discontinuance, following an objection raised by the defendants.
The defendants had challenged the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to hear the suit, which they claim was labour related.
Consequently, the plaintiffs instituted a fresh suit before the NIC by way of ex-parte application, seeking similar reliefs.
Ruling on the ex-parte motion yesterday, Justice Kenneth Amadi granted an order of interim injunction, restraining the defendants from holding any delegates conference until the substantive suit is determined.
He adjourned the case to June 30 for hearing of the motion on notice.
Meanwhile, efforts to serve the interim order at the National Secretariat of PENGASSAN at the 288 Ikorodu Road was frustrated as the workers locked their gate and refused to accept service on the grounds that they would not open till today, June 25 when the conference will be ending.
In their affidavit, the plaintiffs averred that they were duly elected as delegates to the PENGASSAN conference, adding that their tenure was valid for a term of three years.
They averred that the defendants canceled their names as delegates, before the expiration of their tenure, thereby denying them the right to vote and be voted for at the conference.
The plaintiffs argued that in a bid to also prevent them from exercising their franchise, the second and third defendants set up a disciplinary committee to try them after they expressed the fear that their rights were been trampled.
According to them, the panel declared them guilty even when there was no evidence against them, as to the commission of any offence.
The plaintiffs therefore, seeks a declaration that the removal of their names as delegates to the Zonal Conference and National Conference, was unconstitutional.
They also seek an order, mandating the defendants to include their names, as delegates, and an order of perpetual injunction, restraining them from holding the conference, until the illegality occasioned by their removal was redressed.
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, had earlier in May also granted an order of interim injunction, restraining the defendants from holding the conference, until the determination of the suit.
The plaintiff had however, informed the court that the defendant flouted the order of court, and had gone ahead to hold the conference, despite been served with the interim order.
The new delegates conference was billed to hold at the International Women Centre, Abuja on June yesterday and today.