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*Court fines commission N1m, bars it from interfering in union matters

By Joseph Erunke

ABUJA–ABUJA–The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), has been  slammed with a fine of N1 milliion for interference with the activities of the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation Civil Service Technical and Recreational Employees (AUPCTRE).

Hon Justice B. B. Kanyip, President of the National Industrial Court (NIC), fined the CAC the amount as general damages, while delivering judgment in a matter between the commission and the union on Thursday, in Abuja.

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AUPCTRE had, through its lawyer, Okon Efut,SAN, in a suit number: NICN/ABJ/62/2021,challenged CAC at the industrial court over what it described as anti workers policies in the commission.

The union, through the Senior Advocate of Nigeria,SAN, had approached the court in March 1,,2021, for redress, as it  accused  the  Registrar General of CAC, Alhaji Garba Abubakar, of unilaterally restricting staff vacancies  contrary to the recommendations of the committee on the commission’s organogram.

 AUPCTRE also accused Abubakar of barring certain categories of staff from writing promotion examination.

The union also accused the CAC boss of stopping loans, refusal to pay the 2019 promotion arrears to deserving workers and stoppage of salaries of workers without following due process at the peak of COVID-19 pandemic, among others issues.

The union further stated that the registrar general had issued a circular dissolving the union and its  leadership in CAC branch, and basing his action allegedly on a judgment between another union and AUPCTRE.

Kanyip,while delivering judgement in the case brought on behalf the union by Okon Efut,SAN,expressed displeasure of the NIC with CAC  over the years for the commission’s gagging of trade unions since 2004.

According to the judge, the CAC has never hidden its dislike for trade union activities in the commission.

”Even when the industrial court ruled against it, the CAC always managed to come up with something new and different.

”It is in its own interest to come to terms with, and respect the laws governing it. 

”It’s dislike for trade unionism must cease. This court will not sit by and allow CAC do as it wishes. 

”A word, they say, is enough for the wise,”Justice Kanyip stated.

The judge further ruled that  CAC could not dissolve, regulate, supervise, inquire into, probe and interfere with the existence, running, finances and investment activities of AUPCTRE.

”CAC shall also pay AUPCTRE the sum of N1,000, 000.00 only, as general damages within 30 days,  failing which will attract 10 per cent simple interest and N300,000 only, awarded as a cost.”

“The interference in the activities of the claimant in the manner that the defendant did is not only wrong but is infringement of the right of the claimant, for which the claimant is entitled to recompense. This recompense I assess at N million only representing the general damages suffered by the claimant, I so hold,” Justice Kanyip ruled.

He added:”I cannot end this judgement without expressing the displeasure of this Court to the actions of the defendants ,who over the years have shown a marked displeasure and hence disapproval to having trade unionism take place and flourish in especially the  1st defendant.”

He noted that since case came up, “The defendants have never hidden their dislike of trade unionism in their premises.”

“Even when this court ruled against them,they have managed to come up with something new and different. This is uncalled for. The defendants must come to terms with reality that trade unionism has come to stay. And it is in their own interest to come to terms with and respect the laws governing it. The dislike they have for trade unionism must cease. This court will not sit by and allow them do as they wish. A word,it is said,is enough for the wise,” he said.

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