Court Strikes Out Case Seeking Proscription of TCN Workers’ Union

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Chineme Okafor in Abuja

A lawsuit filed by the national leadership of the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) at the National Industrial Court (NIC) Abuja Judicial Division, seeking to proscribe its affiliate branch in the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), has been struck out by the court, THISDAY has learnt.

Court documents obtained recently in Abuja showed that Justice Benedict Bakwaph Kanyip, in a ruling delivered on November 14 on the case with file no: NICN/Abj/215/2018, stated that the unions had prematurely approached the court to settle their grievances, considering that they had not exhausted provisions in the Trade Dispute Act (TDA) 2004 on same issues.

The ruling was likely going to give the TCN branch of the union more leverage to pursue its request from the national body to account for a N500 million superannuation fund of the union they reportedly mismanaged.

The national leadership of SSAEAC had been at loggerheads with its TCN branch over sundry claims of anti-union activities, and disbanded its branch executives which the TCN executives protested on grounds that it did not follow the content of the union’s constitution.

The national leadership subsequently followed up its action with its request from the industrial court to proscribe the branch executives.
But delivering judgment on the case, Kanyip said: “The first ground of objection is that the claimants are prematurely before this court, having declared a trade dispute on issues that are same with those canvassed in this case.”

He further explained: “I read carefully the letter declaring the trade dispute written by the 2nd claimant and attached as Exhibit A (MM11), to the affidavit in support of the preliminary objection. I am satisfied that the issues canvassed these in are same with the issues presently before this court in the instant suit.”

According to Kanyip: “This means that the processes of Part I of the TDA 2004 must be complied with before recourse to this court in its appellate jurisdiction. Support for this can be found not just in the provisions of Part 1 of the TDA 2004 but also section 7(3) of the NIC Act 2006 and the proviso to section 254C(3) of the 1999 Constitution.

“As it is, therefore, the claimants are prematurely before this court in this matter. Having declared a trade dispute, they must exhaust the processes of Part I of the TDA 2004 before they can come to this court. I so find and hold.

“That being so, this case is liable to be struck out. It is accordingly struck out. I make no order as to cost. Ruling is entered accordingly.”

Meanwhile, the TCN said it has restored bulk electricity supply to its Funtua transmission substation after a fire incident which reportedly emanated from a faulty 33kV armored cable from Kaduna distribution company (KEDCO) 33kV feeder burnt along the cable into adjoining TCN substation, gutting and damaging TCN’s protection and control panel of 7.5 megavolt amp (MVA) 132/33kV transformer in the substation.

The TCN’s General Manager, Public Affairs, Mrs. Ndidi Mbah, stated that the incident which happened recently, started with a blow and flame on the up-riser of Dandume 33kV feeder belonging to KEDCO in Funtua.

The fire, she added was attributed to earth fault resulting from the faulty 33kV armored cable in the adjoining KEDCO station.
Mbah, explained that prior to the incident, KEDCO had a planned outage from Zaria132/33kV transmission substation, and this caused loss of supply to Funtua 132/33kV transmission substation, but that the 33kV Dandume feeder circuit breaker was closed and supply restored to the 30MVA and 7.5MVA, 132/33kV transformers in Funtua from Zaria.