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Court dismisses suit against minister, DPR

By Joseph Onyekwere
14 December 2020   |   3:08 am
A Federal High Court, Lagos, has dismissed a suit filed by a lawyer, Temilolu Ademolekun, challenging the constitutionality of the regulation and guidelines issued by the Minister of Petroleum Resources

Federal High Court, Lagos

A Federal High Court, Lagos, has dismissed a suit filed by a lawyer, Temilolu Ademolekun, challenging the constitutionality of the regulation and guidelines issued by the Minister of Petroleum Resources on the release of staff in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.

The trial judge, Nicholas Oweibo, struck out the suit, which had the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva; Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami as co-defendants.

Adamolekun, in his suit, had asked the court for declaratory and injunctive reliefs against the defendants, challenging the constitutionality of the provisions of Regulation 15A Petroleum (Drilling and Production) (Amendment) Regulations 1988 and the Guidelines for the release of staff in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry 2019.

In response, the defendants, through their counsel, Adebayo Ologe, filed a defence together with a preliminary objection.

In the notice of preliminary objection, Ologe asked the court to strike out the suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for the plaintiff’s lack of standing to sue.

In his judgement, Justice Oweibo, first considered the defendants’ preliminary objection, whereby he agreed with the submissions that the Federal High Court lacks the subject matter jurisdiction to entertain the suit and that the plaintiff lacks the locus standi (the standing) to institute the action.

Justice Oweibo held that section 254 (C) of the 1999 Constitution confers special and exclusive jurisdiction on the National Industrial Court (NIC) in civil causes or matters relating to or connected with labour and employment, welfare, wages, benefits, and compensation of employees as well as matters pertaining to industrial relations, irrespective of the industry involved.

“Even where the matter is not on employment per se, so long as the claims or issues for determination are related to or connected with labour or employment, including health, the safety of employees, then the NIC shall have and exercise exclusive jurisdiction over those matters,” the judge held.

The judge also held that the plaintiff lacks the standing to institute the action.