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Court did not nullify our tenure extension, NULGE tells Appeal Court

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The Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has appealed against the decision of the National Industrial Court (NIC) in Kaduna, which held that the issue of tenure extension to a period of six years by the executives of the union has been settled by a sister court in Owerri.

In two grounds of appeal, filed by NULGE, Kaduna branch, Rayyanu Turunku, and six others against Adamu Sani, Luka Tabat, and five other defendants, the appellants stated that the lower court erred in law by holding that the Owerri decision nullified their tenure elongation.

Justice Sinmisola Adeniyi of the Kaduna division of the NIC had on July 2, 2020, in Suit No. NIC/KD/29/2019 between NULGE and seven others versus Adamu Sani and six others held that the elongation of the tenure of the executives of the Union, which was quashed by Justice Ibrahim Galadima of the Owerri division of the court, resolved all matters about tenure extension against the appellants.

Dissatisfied with the decision, the appellants have challenged it before the Court of Appeal, Kaduna division, praying for redress.

“The learned trial judge with utmost respect erred in law when he dismissed the appellant’s case and held that the issue of tenure extension or elongation to a period of six years has been conclusively resolved by this court in suit No. NIC/OW/36/2018, even though the appellants were not parties to the said case.

“The learned trial judge with utmost respect erred in law when he dismissed the appellant’s case at interlocutory state without hearing evidence in breach of the appellant’s fundamental right guaranteed under section 36 (1) of the 1999 constitution as amended,” the appellants stated.

According to the appellants, the defendants, acting under “illusionary misconception, mischievously and ignorantly sought to apply the judgment of the NIC Owerri in suit No. NICN/OW/36/2018, Uzoma Ekeanyanwu and others V Richard Eze and others to Kaduna branch of the NULGE.”

“The NULGE Kaduna State branch was not a party to the suit in NICN/OW/36/2018 at Owerri,” the appellants argued.

Meanwhile, Justice O.Y Onuwe of NIC Abuja had interpreted the Owerri judgment, marked NICN/OW/36/2018, which was delivered by Justice Galadima on July 11, 2019, explaining that the decision is limited only to Imo state chapter of the Union and not the national body.

His decision followed an exparte motion dated August 7, 2019, filed by Femi Aborishade on behalf of the defendants, praying the court to determine whether the scope of its order affected national officers of the Union.

The judge held: “An order of court mandating the defendants to conduct an election of the state officers of the Imo State branch of NULGE in accordance with the NULGE constitution within one month from the date of this judgment shall be construed as read.

“It is limited to the Imo State branch. No other meaning shall be imported into it, pending the determination of the motion on notice. The motion on notice filed along with this ex parte shall be immediately served on the respondents along with this order.”

Also, ruling on a preliminary objection filed by the national president of NULGE, Comrade Ibrahim Khaleel, NULGE and three others against a tenure extension suit filed against them by Comrade Ekwem Chinedu and two others before the NIC Owerri, Justice Galadima on February 6, 2020, held that the applicants cannot re-litigate on a concluded matter.

“It does amount to a classical case of an abuse of judicial process to re-litigate on an issue which had already been determined by my previous judgment on July 11, 2019.

“Parties and their subsequent privies, are estopped from raising issues that have already been determined under the principle of res judicata, and I so hold,” the judge declared.

The applicants had approached the court, praying it to declare that the resolution reached at the Unions Special National Delegates Conference (SNDC) on October 13, 2016 in Akure, Ondo State, extending the tenure of the respondents from four to six years was unconstitutional.

The applicants had also prayed the court to declare that no officer of the union at all levels is “entitled to hold such offices beyond the period of four years as specified under its constitution.”


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