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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 dismisses Shell Petroleum objection challenging jurisdiction to entertain claim on operation guidelines


1011 Thursday 2nd November 2023

The Presiding Judge, Abuja judicial division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Osatohanmwen Obaseki-Osaghae has dismissed the objection filed by the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the case filed by Mr. Johnson Ogbum for lacking merit.

 

Justice Obaseki-Osaghae held that the orders Mr. Johnson is seeking are consequential orders that may be made by the Court depending on the findings of the Court at the trial, and the orders sought fall within the jurisdiction and powers of the Court.

 

From facts, the claimant- Mr. Johnson Ogbum is challenging his disengagement from the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, and complained that the company breached the Guidelines for the Release of Staff in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry when it failed to obtain the consent or approval of the Minister of Petroleum Resources through an application to be made to the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission before his dismissal from service.

 

In defence, the 1st defendant/Applicant-Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited filed a Preliminary Objection and sought an order striking out reliefs for lack of jurisdiction, and an order striking out the names of (Minister of Petroleum Resources and Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission ) 2nd and 3rd Defendants/Respondents from the suit, for not being proper or necessary parties to the case as there is no co-employer or triangular employment relationship between Applicant, the Claimant and 2nd and 3rd Defendants.  

 

The learned senior counsel to Shell Petroleum submitted that the Court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain any claim under the Guidelines seeking to direct the Minister of Petroleum Resources and Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission to impose penalty on her and the withdrawal or cancellation of permit, license or lease of the Applicant, and further that the power to impose penalties and sanctions under the Guidelines are administrative powers vested in the Minister of Petroleum Resources and Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission and not judicial powers, and the effect of which will be tantamount to exercising the powers reserved for the Minister of Petroleum Resources and is not cognizable under the Guidelines. 

 

In opposition, the counsel to Mr. Johnson Ogbum argued that the reliefs sought are within the jurisdiction of the court and urged the Court to dismiss the objection with substantive costs. 

 

In a well-considered judgment, the presiding Judge, Hon. Justice Osatohanmwen Obaseki-Osaghae held that the assertion of the counsel to the Shell Petroleum Development that the powers of the Court are ousted or curtailed in respect of the Guidelines is not in tune with the provisions of Section 6 (6) (b) of the 1999 CFRN.

 

The Court further held that Mr. Johnson has the locus standi to seek those reliefs both as an employee, and as a citizen of Nigeria in a matter of public policy and employment rights of employees in the petroleum industry, and the Minister of Petroleum Resources and Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission are proper and necessary parties to the suit.

 

“The Court has jurisdiction to entertain the entirety of the Claimant’s suit and all the reliefs sought. I rule that the Claimant has locus standi to sue. This objection is dismissed. Costs of N50,000.00 awarded to the Claimant.”  The Court ruled.



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