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The court has exclusive jurisdiction in civil causes and matters relating to or connected with any labour, employment, trade unions, industrial relations and matters arising from workplace, the conditions of service, including health, safety, welfare of labour, employee, worker and matter incidental thereto or connected therewith.

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Industrial Court validates Unionship withdrawal of Ogoniba Napoleon, 14 others; restrains Bayelsa Healthcare Board from dues deduction


226 Friday 18th November 2022

The Presiding Judge, Yenagoa Judicial division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Bashar Alkali has validated the voluntary withdrawal of Mr. Ogoniba Napoleon and 14 others from the Medical & Health Workers Union of Nigeria, and held that they are no longer entitled to benefit from all the privileges attached to the membership as a result of their withdrawal from the Union.


The Court granted an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Bayelsa State Primary Healthcare Board from further deducting check-off dues from Ogoniba Napoleon and 14 others’ salaries, and paying same to the Medical & Health Workers Union. 


On the claims for the sum of Five Hundred and Twenty-One Thousand, One Hundred and Nine Naira only (N521,109) alleged deducted dues, Justice Alkali declined the relief on the premised that the claimants failed to show to the court how they came about the said calculated sums and the Court is not a father Christmas. 


From facts, the claimants- Ogoniba Napoleon and 14 others had submitted that after their letters of withdrawal of membership were served on the Medical & Health Workers Union, which they also copied the Bayelsa State Primary Healthcare Board, but were surprised to see that check-off dues were still deducted from their salaries to their utter dismay. 


They averred that the constant deduction of check-off dues from their accounts is not proper after expressing their desire to leave the 1st Defendant union and urged the Court to grant the reliefs sought.


In defense, the learned counsel to the Medical & Health Workers Union of Nigeria, Ahmed Adetola-Kazeem, Esq maintained that Ogoniba Napoleon and 14 others are still financial members of the Union, having not withdrawn their membership properly, and the letter addressed to the Union with the instruction that their check-off dues should no longer be remitted to the Union, ought to have been addressed to their employers.


The learned counsel further averred that the claimants' solicitor wrote on behalf of all the Claimants jointly when such letter should have been written individually, since voluntarily opting out of the union is supposed to be individually undertaken.


In addition, the 2nd defendant- Bayelsa State Primary Healthcare Board averred that the claim is statute-barred by virtue of the provisions of section 2(a) of the Public Officers (Protection) Act having been filed outside the Three months required to file an action against public officers and urged the Court to decline jurisdiction.


The agency submitted that the directive from the Medical & Health Workers Union of Nigeria to deduct Check-off Dues from Claimants' salaries remains valid until it is revoked by a Court of competent jurisdiction.


Delivering the judgment after a thorough analysis of the submission of both parties, the Presiding Judge, Hon. Justice Bashar Alkali affirmed the jurisdiction of the court and dismissed the objection for lacking merit.


Justice Alkali stated that it is uncontroverted that the Bayelsa State Primary Healthcare Board received the Claimants’ resignation letters from the Union and the Court is certain beyond a shred of doubt that the Defendants by their admission cannot feign ignorance of the resignation letters of the Claimants. 


The Court ruled that the Health Board does not need approval from the Union before stopping the deduction of the check-off dues from Ogoniba Napoleon and 14 others when they have already notified the Defendants of their resignation from the Union.


Justice Alkali ruled that the purpose of copying the Healthcare Board is not to keep the letters for a record purpose but to take cognizance of the fact that Ogoniba Napoleon and 14 others are no longer members of the Union and stoppage of the deduction of the check-off dues from their salaries.


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