Abuja – The National Industrial Court on Thursday in Abuja ordered the Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers Association (PENGASSAN) to recall its suspended members, pending the determination of the substantive suit filed in the court.
PENGASSAN had suspended some members of its Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) Branch, in spite of a court directive that none of the parties should take any further action until the suit was determined.
The suspended members had gone to court, asking the court to stop some persons from parading themselves as leaders of the union in the branch.
This, they said, was as a result of an inconclusive election in November 2015 which failed to produce an executive committee for the branch.
Counsel to the claimant, Mr Oluwaseun Alabi, told the court that he had filed a motion for contempt against the defendant for failing to obey court orders.
Alabi said that contrary to a ruling given by the court on Jan. 22 that status quo be maintained pending the determination of the substantive suit, the defendant had gone ahead to suspend the claimants.
“The court ordered that the parties should explore the option of settling the matter amicably and we started the process.
“However, on May 16, a notice was published in one of the dailies where the claimants were purportedly suspended.
“The claimants were shocked by the notice and so we have filed a motion for contempt of court,” Alabi said.
On his part, counsel to the defendant, Mr R.U. Ezeani said that he got to know of the publication suspending the claimants when he received the notice of contempt.
Ezeani said he had asked his client for an explanation as to why the suspension was given but was yet to get a reply.
He, however, told the court that despite the order that status quo be maintained, the claimants had been holding meetings and their counsel wrote to the defendants on the matter.
The Presiding Judge, Justice Babatunde Adejumo, said the action taken by the defendants was pre-emptive of the decision of the court.
Adejumo ordered that the suspended members must be recalled failing which the person, who signed the suspension notices would face the wrath of the law.
He, however, advised that since the suit was a civil matter, both parties should explore avenues of settling it amicably without anyone taking the laws into his hands.
The judge urged counsel to the claimants to withdraw the motion of contempt just as he appealed to the defendant’s counsel to advise his clients to seek peaceful settlement.
Adejumo adjourned the matter till June 22 for report of settlement.