EFFECT OF THE THIRD ALTERATION TO THE CONSTITUTION ON THE JURISDICTION OF THE FEDERAL AND STATE HIGH COURTS TO HEAR LABOUR AND INDUSTRIAL MATTERS PENDING BEFORE THEM
CASE TITLE: THE INCORPORATED TRUSTEES OF THE NIGERIAN BAPTIST CONVENTION V. OJO (2018) LPELR-45933(CA)
PRACTICE AREA: JURISDICTION
LEAD JUDGMENT BY: JIMI OLUKAYODE BADA, J.C.A.
FACTS OF THE CASE
This appeal emanated from the Ruling of the Oyo State High Court of Justice, Ibadan Judicial Division delivered on the 19th day of April 2013 in Suit No: HSK/11/2007- BETWEEN- THE INCORPORATED TRUSTEES OF THE NIGERIAN BAPTIST CONVENTION VS. MR. PHILLIP ADEKUNLE OJO.
Briefly the facts of the case are that the Appellants who were Claimants before the High Court instituted an action against the defendant now Respondent in which it claimed as per paragraph 23 of the Statement of Claims as follows:-
(1) The sum of One Million Two Hundred and Sixteen Thousand Ninety-Nine Naira (N1,216,099.00) only being Special Damages for breach of bond to serve the Claimants up till 30th April 2012.
(2) The sum of Three Million Naira (N3,000,000.00) only for breach of contract of service.
By consent of both parties at the High Court, the suit became part-heard when on 22/4/2010, parties agreed on issues to be determined and documents were admitted as Exhibits without objection. On 14/1/2013 the Respondent by a motion filed in Court challenged the jurisdiction of the lower Court to entertain the suit as a result of the Third Alteration to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 which took effect from the 4th day of March 2011 vesting jurisdiction in disputes on labour matters among others in the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
At the conclusion of hearing in the said application, the learned trial Judge in a Ruling delivered on 19/4/2013 declined jurisdiction to entertain the suit and struck it out. Dissatisfied, the Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION
The Court determined the appeal on this sole issue couched as follows:
“Whether the lower Court had jurisdiction to conclude the suit before it regardless of the Third Alteration to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which made labour matters a subject matter of the exclusive jurisdiction of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria with effect from 4th March 2011 and without retrospective effect.”
On the whole, the Court found no merit in the appeal and accordingly dismissed same.
JURISDICTION – JURISDICTION OF THE STATE/FEDERAL HIGH COURT – Effect of the third alteration to the Constitution on the jurisdiction of the Federal and State High Courts to hear labour and industrial matters pending before them