The leadership crisis brewing between the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and ten of its affiliate unions have taken a new twist as Justice Rabiu Gwandu of the Lagos State division of the National Industrial Court has restrained the TUC from holding its 12th Triennial Delegates’ Conference.
Justice Gwandu also stopped the TUC from holding or taking further steps to hold and conduct elections for the position of president and other national positions pending the hearing and determination of a suit filed by the affiliate union.
The judge granted the interlocutory orders after entertaining the suit filed by the ten senior staff unions over the alleged refusal of the current leadership of the TUC to implement a resolution on succession agreed on at the last Triennial Delegates’ Conference.
In the main suit, the claimants specifically accused the TUC of declining to implement the resolution reached and ratified on June 28, 2019, which states, that the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI) should produce the next president of the defendant for the years 2022 to 2025.
The claimants also alleged that the part of the resolution, which states that the Food, Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (FOBTOB) should take the position of TUC president between 2019 and 2022 have been implemented.
They are, therefore, urging the court to determine whether it is proper, fair, just and equitable for the defendant to jettison the agreements and resolutions when the first part has been implemented, the defendant has benefited from it and the claimants have not altered their positions?
They are also asking the court to determine whether going by the constitution of the defendant, the agreements and resolutions reached and ratified the defendant should not be restrained from publishing for election the position of president of the defendant for the year 2022 to 2025.
The claimant is further seeking an order mandating, directing and compelling the defendant to immediately enable the 1st claimant (Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI) to produce and assume the office of the president of the TUC for the year 2022 to 2025 in line with the agreements and resolutions.
In an affidavit attached to the suit and sworn to by the general secretary of Pulp Paper and Paper Products Printing and Publishing Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PPAPPPAPSSAN), Benedict Ikegbulam, the claimants are insisting that the court must intervene in the crisis to prevent the violation of the defendant’s constitution.
The claimant averred that sometimes in 2019, due to the leadership imbroglio and the intricate and delicate nature of the situation around the presidency of the defendant, during its TUC Triennial Delegates Conference constituted an Electoral Committee Chaired by Comrade Augustine Etafo of Construction and Engineering Senior Staff Association of Nigeria and also a deputy president of the Congress to work out modalities for elections into TUC as a way of resolving the imbroglio and saving the defendant from collapse.
“That the Electoral Committee after the National Officers positions were harmonised with the approval of the National Executive Council of the Defendant recommended to Defendant the following order of presidency of the defendant to prevent rancour or internal crisis.
“That Food, Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (FOBTOB) takes the position of TUC President in 2019-2022.
“That the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institution (ASSBIFI) takes the position of TUC President in 2022-2025.
“After the tenure of ASSBIFI, the position of the President shall be opened to all members to contest.
“That the above recommendations of the Electoral Committee were then presented to the National Delegates Conference at the 11th Triennial Delegates Conference of the Defendant presided by the then TUC President Comrade Bobbai Bala Kaigama on the 28th day of June 2019 at the NAF Centre, Abuja.
“That the Claimants were however surprised that the Defendant in preparations for the 12th Triennial Delegates’ Conference published a special notice dated 8th February 2022 for positions to be contested for 2022 to 2025 at the 12th Triennial delegates Conference to include the office of the President of the TUC without any regard to the aforementioned motions adopted, ratified and already being implemented.
“That up until this moment, Defendant has failed and neglected to honour the resolutions and agreement of its legitimate members including the Claimants.
“That notwithstanding all the efforts made by the Claimants to enable Defendant to see reasons with them, Defendant has not relented in its effort to frustrate the realisation and compliance with the aforementioned resolutions and agreements of members boasting that it can and will use its influence to subvert the will of members and impose its
‘own person’ in utter disregard to the 2019 resolutions and agreement. That unless the reliefs sought herein are granted, the Defendants will continue to act in flagrant defiance to the Supreme Authority of the Defendant, the members of the Defendant and the sanctity of agreement,” the claimants stated.
Justice Gwandu has fixed July 18 for the hearing of the substantive suit.