Owerri: The Presiding Judge, Owerri Judicial division of the National Industrial Court, His Lordship, Hon. Justice Ibrahim Galadima has nullified and set aside the resolutions taken or issued by former Chairman of National Union of Local Government Employees, Imo State chapter Comrade Richard Eze and other members of the State Executives in their purported capacity as State Officers for being illegal and unconstitutional.
The Court held that in accordance with the 2005 constitution of NULGE, the tenure of office of the State Officers and Members of the State EXCO of the Imo State Branch of NULGE constitutionally expired by effusion of time on 14/6/2018, ordered for fresh election within 1-Month.
The Claimants as full-fledged members of the National Union of Local Government Employees NULGE are aggrieved that Defendants (especially the 1st along with his members in EXCO), despite serving out their four year term of office as Officers and Members of the Imo State EXCO of the Union, unconstitutionally remained beyond 14/6/2018 when they should have stepped down. The Claimants alleged that the Defendants claim their tenure was elongated to six years.
Therefore, this originating summons was filed for determination whether having regard to the provisions of Rules of the NULGE amended constitution, the tenure of office of persons elected State Officers and members of the State EXCO of the State Branches/Chapters of NULGE including Imo State Branch, is a period of four (4) years and not six (6) years.
Upon determination, also sought for A declaration that any decision, directive or resolution by any person, officer, organ or body in the NULGE purporting to elongate or extend to a period of six years, the four year constitutional tenure of office of the State Officers and members of the State EXCO of the union as prescribed in the union’s constitution, is illegal, unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect.
The Defendants filed a notice of preliminary objection seeking for the dismissal of the suit on the grounds that it is an abuse of Court process and premature that the Claimants having not exhausted all constitutionally prescribed internal and administrative mechanisms for settling the matter urged the Court to dismiss the suit.
In reply, the claimant submitted further that a perusal of the 2016 NULGE Constitution establishes that it will be impracticable to require an aggrieved member of the union to appeal the decision of the NEC to the NDC before seeking redress in Court. As such, that the Claimants exhausted all domestic remedies and that the suit before the Court is the final way of resolving the Claimants’ grievances.
However, the Defendants maintained that the National Delegates’ Conference resolved to elongate the tenure of all officials of the EXCO including the tenure of the 1st Defendant, by an additional two year term that the resolution made by the delegates at the Conference on 13/10/2016 is superior to the NULGE Constitution and has the effect of subjecting what it declares or resolves over and above the provisions of the Constitution.
Delivering the Judgment, Justice Galadima held that the 2005 NULGE Constitution clearly provides for a period of four years tenure for all officials of NULGE at the National, State and Local Branches of the Union and further expressed thus;
“Again, it will seem logical that if the members present at the National Delegates’ Conference intended to elongate the tenure of her officials in office for an additional two years, there would be at least a written resolution, signed by all or most of the members in agreement which shall be forwarded along with a communique to all the branches in the federation in compliance with the union constitution and as due notification.
“Therefore, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Rule 6 (vi) of the 2016 NULGE Constitution ultra vires the 2016 NULGE Constitution since it ambitiously grants the NDC the power to decide or make resolutions which shall supersede the provisions of the same Constitution even prior to such resolution being registered by the Registrar of Trade Unions pursuant to Section 29 (1) of the TUA 2004. No resolution, prior to its registration or recognition by the Registrar of Trade Unions is in effect, a law.
Consequently, the Court declared that in accordance with the 2005 constitution of NULGE, the tenure of office of the State Officers and Members of the State EXCO of the Imo State Branch of NULGE who were elected on 14/6/2014, constitutionally expired by effusion of time on 14/6/2018.
His Lordship also nullified and set aside, for being illegal and unconstitutional, all steps, actions, decisions, resolutions or directives whatsoever taken or issued after 14/6/2018 by the 1st Defendant and those he represents in this suit in their purported capacity as State Officers and members of the State EXCO of the Imo State NULGE and mandated the defendants to conduct an election of the State officers of the Imo State Branch/Chapter of NULGE in accordance with the NULGE constitution within one month from today.