The National Industrial Court (NIC), Lagos Division Wednesday dismissed a suit by Premier Lotto Limited (PPL) seeking the de-registration as a Trade Union of the National Union of Lottery Agents and Employees (NULAE).
Justice Benedict Bakwaph Kanyip held that Premier Lotto, also known as “Baba Ijebu”, lacked the locus standi to institute the suit.
The claimant (Premier Lotto) had prayed the court for a declaration that the registration of NULAE as a Trade Union by the Registrar of Trade Unions was unlawful, invalid and not accordance with the Trade Union Act.
The claimant also sought for an order of perpetual injunction restraining NULAE, its servants and agents from holding itself out as a Trade Union and enjoying the rights and privileges of a registered union.
But, ruling on the preliminary objection filed by NULAE through its lawyer, Joseph Olusola Iji, the court held that the claimant was only a busybody and a meddlesome interloper.
Justice Kanyip observed that “the claimant is not comfortable with its agents being members of the defendant’s organisation.”
He held further that the claimant wrongly abrogated to itself the right to determine who should be a member of Trade Union adding that the right to join a Trade Union belonged to the employee and not the employer.
“It is not for an employer to elect whether or not to recognise a trade union,” Justice Kanyip added.
Besides, the court held that the claimant’s suit failed to comply with Section 5(2) of the Trade Union Act which gives a three-month period of publication of the notice when NULAE was registered as a Trade Union.
The court stated “The provision of Section 5(2) of the Trade Union Act is not in the statute for the fun of it. Rather, it is to be fully exploited. Since the claimant failed to make use of its rights to challenge the registration of the union within the provided time frame, it is deemed as the claimant has slept on its rights and therefore barred by the doctrine of estoppel from raising further alarm”.
Consequently, Justice Kanyip held that the suit was belated having failed to comply with the Trade Union Act, hence the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
NULAE had in its notice of preliminary objection, brought pursuant to Sections 36 & 254C of the Constitution urged the court to dismiss the suit for lack of jurisdiction and that the suit was premature and lacked merit.