A cross section of Abuja-based lawyers on Saturday applauded the Supreme Court’s decision on Industrial Court’s appeal.The Supreme Court on June 30 decided that the Court of Appeal has the jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other courts to hear and determine all appeals arising from the decision of the National Industrial Court.
Some of the lawyers, who spoke with newsmen on Saturday in Abuja, said that the decision was a welcome development.
Mr Austin Nwosu, an Abuja based-lawyer said that the decision of the Supreme Court would go a long way to helping the court make better decisions on industrial courts matters.
“The Supreme Court in clarity stated that no provision expressly divested the Court of Appeal of its appellate jurisdiction over all decision on civil matters emanating from the decision of the National Industrial Court.
“This is due to the hardship and in some cases injustice resulting from a misreading, misinterpretation and misapplication of Section 243 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) by the Court of Appeal,“ Nwosu said.
Mr Tanko Bulus, another lawyer said, “at last we now know that there is only one Supreme Court in Nigeria because prior to the judgment of the supreme court on June 30 as in the case of Skye Bank Ltd. Vs Mrs Titilayo Akinsaya.
“The impression was erroneously created that the decision of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria wears the apparel of finality.’’
“And this no doubt left a sour taste in the mouth because there were instances where established principles of law were turned upside down by some decisions of the National Industrial Court, yet we were meant to believe that such decisions cannot be appealed against,” he said.
Another lawyer, Mr Joel Ali, saw the decision of the Supreme Court “as a divine intervention that is timely`’.
He said that it was because the judicial system was under unbearable pressure due to some decisions of the National Industrial Court sitting in virtually all the states of country.
“You know that there is only one Supreme Court in the country hence its decisions can be tracked and streamlined.
“But a situation whereby every Industrial Court in Nigeria carries on as a Supreme Court, that will definitely bred confusion and in fact can lead to a judicial self destruction.
“It is therefore a welcome development that the Supreme Court in its wisdom intervened. It is indeed a laudable and healthy intervention,’’ he said.
Ms Christie Nwaka, a lawyer said that the Supreme Court decision was perfectly in order but a lot more needed to be done.
“The National Assembly should amend Section 243 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) to spell out in very clear terms that the decisions of the National Industrial Court can be appealed against without any inhibition.
“The idea of applying for leave of the Court of Appeal to bring an appeal in some cases seems to be incongruous, so far as it is a final decision of the court.
“An amendment is needed to bring the decisions of the National Industrial Court at par with the decisions of the High Court and the Federal High Court,” the lawyer said.
Newsmen report that the National Industrial Court was set up by the Trade Dispute Decree No. 7 of 1976 to deal with trade union disputes and interpretation of collective bargaining agreements.
It also operates on matters that emerge from arbitration or conciliatory labour disputes.
In 2006, the legislature passed the National Industrial Court Act, 2006 (NICA) to strengthen the rules of the court and its ability to enforce judgment.