WORKERS of Charles Mekwunye $ Co, Chambers, have continued to savour recent legal victory at Supreme Court over the finality of judgement of the National Industrial Court, NIC.
The workers who expressed delight over the judgement were unanimous that the judgement have given opportunity for aggrieved parties in industrial matters to seek for justice if not satisfied with the ruling of NIC
Speaking during a celebration of the landmark Supreme Court judgment with staff of the chambers, Principal partner of Charles Mekwunye $ Co, Chambers,Dr. Charles Mekwunye, explained that the drive for freedom of the oppressed forced him to quit his lucrative banking career into the legal practice eight years ago, leading to the recent legal victory at Supreme Court over the finality of judgement of the National Industrial Court, NIC.
Dr. Mekwunye contended that he had long faulted the erroneous belief that NIC had the final say on industrial matters, hence he decided to subject it to judicial interpretation.
He argued that before the landmark decision of the Supreme Court, many people had taken the NIC as the apex court on issues of industrial matters, declaring that this judgement had further enriched the nation’s judicial system.
While charging the staff of the Chambers to brace up for more challenges, Dr. Mekwunye who rose to an executive directorship in a leading a bank in the country, insisted the landmark judgement was just the beginning of harder work to fight for the oppressed in whatever circumstances.
He commended the staff for the sacrifices, perseverance and dedications, since the beginning of the case till the judgement, assuring that the Chambers would continue to provide the needed opportunity for staff to attain their ambitions and goals.
It will be recalled that that TheSupreme Court on Friday June 30, gave a verdict allowing aggrieved persons to appeal the decision of the National Industrial Court.
Four members of a five-man panel at the court gave the decision following an appeal filed by Sky Bank Nigeria Plc through its counsel, Dr. Charles D. Mekwunye and Co, against a respondent, Anaemem Iwu, represented by his counsel, Fes Eze Eke
Before the decision on Friday, only judgements emanating from fundamental right appeals, could go to a higher court.
The applicants had asked the Supreme Court to determine whether there were exceptions to the powers of the appeal court to entertain decisions of the lower court.
In a unanimous ruling by four members of the bench, the court ruled that the appeal court had power to entertain matters from the NIC, regardless of whether they were fundamental rights suits or not.
In the ruling read by Justice Centus Nweze, the four members of the bench said the law allowed the appeal court to sit on matters emanating from trial courts, including the NIC.
It said there was no law that prevented the Appeal Court from entertaining cases from the NIC.
Justice Centus Nweze, who read the lead (majority) judgment , identified the key issue to be determined as, “Whether the Court of Appeal, as an appellate court created by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has the jurisdiction, to the exclusion of any other court of law in Nigeria, to hear and determine appeals arising from decisions of the NIC.”
According to Justice Nweze: “The lower court, that is, the Court of Appeal, has the jurisdiction, to the exclusion of any other court in Nigeria, to hear and determine all appeals arising from the decisions of the trial court. No constitutional provision expressly divested the said Court of Appeal of its appellate jurisdiction over all decisions on civil matters emanating from the trial court.
“And, as a corollary, the jurisdiction of the court to hear and determine all civil appeal on decisions of the National Industrial Court is not limited to only fundamental human rights. These shall be the opinions of this court and shall be transmitted to the Lagos division of the Court of Appeal for its guidance in determining the appeal before it.”
A member of the panel, Justice Kumai Akaahs, said he believed the appeal court was only empowered to entertain such matters as fundamental rights suits and criminal cases from the NIC.