The presiding Judge, Owerri Judicial division of the National Industrial Court, His Lordship, Hon. Justice Ibrahim Galadima on Friday 25th October 2019 dismissed the application filed by DEGEMA LOCAL GOVERNMENT COUNCIL to strike out the matter brought by DICKSON YOUNGMAN and 14 others for lack of jurisdiction.
The court expressed that applicant is incorrect to assume that the practice directive of the Hon. Chief Judge of a High Court can supersede the rules of the Court that a practice direction does not qualify as an enactment and cannot tie the court in the exercise of its discretion, ordered the matter to proceed for trial immediately.
The Defendant filed a motion on notice dated the 13/5/2019 sought to strike out the Claimants’ substantive suit which was transferred from the High Court of Rivers State, Degema Judicial Division, to the industrial Court ruling for lack of jurisdiction to entertain the claims as contained in the order of transfer made per Hon. Justice S. O. Benson on the 25/9/2016.
Defendant’s/Applicant’s Counsel, O. E. Deinbo queried that the suit could not have been easily transferred by the High Court of Rivers State because no provision of law or rules in Rivers State permitting it to transfer any matter to the National Industrial Court.
In response, the claimants' Counsel Graham-Douglas submitted that the suit was validly initiated before the high court before it was transferred to the industrial court urged the court to dismiss the application.
While delivering the ruling, Justice Galadima held inter alia that learned Counsel to the applicant is incorrect to assume that the practice directive of the Hon. Chief Judge of a High Court can supersede the rules of Court.
“But assuming there was merely a practice directive regulating the issue of transfer of cases in Rivers State to this Court, such directive will neither supersede the provisions of the Act establishing this Court nor the rules of this Court as tenuously argued by the learned Deinbo. This is because a practice direction does not qualify as an enactment. Consequently, it has no force of law and cannot fetter a rule of court and cannot tie the court in the exercise of its discretion."
In all, the court dismissed the application, ordered that the matter be proceeded for trial immediately and awarded Cost of N50,000.00 to the Claimants.