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National Industrial Court set to commence 2020 Annual Vacation

The National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) has announced that it will embark on its annual vacation from July 27th 2020 to Friday 25th September 2020.

In a circular signed July 29th, the President of the NICN, Hon. Justice Benedict said the directive was in line with the provisions of Order 58 Rule 4(2) of the Civil Procedure Rules 2017 of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria. He noted that the National Industrial Court will resume judicial activities on Monday 28th September 2020.

Justice Kanyip revealed the suspension of normal court sittings during the 60-day vacation except for urgent applications, noting that vacation judges will be designated to handle urgent matters.

“Please note that there will be no normal court sitting during the period except for urgent applications, where the res of a case may be destroyed if not heard by a vacation Judge, only,” he said.

The res of a case refers to an object, a subject matter, or status, against which legal proceedings have been instituted.

Although the Industrial Court President’s directive exempts matters that are urgent, it is unclear what matters qualify to the category of “urgent” in this regard. 

The directive did not explicitly define what constitutes an urgent matter, leaving the interpretation vague. It also gives room for selective administration of justice.

The consequence of this directive is that litigants may be unable to file their suits if the matters are not deemed urgent, which constitutes a violation of their fundamental human right of access to justice.

Also, this would delay and may indeed derail justice, as approaching other courts for redress in matters relating to employment, trade unions, human trafficking, industrial relations, unfair labour practices and other issues within the exclusive jurisdiction of the NIC, is practically impossible.

The National Industrial Court Act 2006 and Section 254C (1) of the 1999 constitution (Third Alteration) Amendment Act 2010, grants exclusive jurisdiction to the National Industrial Court to adjudicate to the exclusion of all other courts in civil causes and matters. 

This implies that all matters within the jurisdiction of the National Industrial Court (NIC) cannot be shared or concurrently exercised by any other superior courts of record in Nigeria. Also, judgements by the NIC cannot be appealed or re-adjudicated by any other courts in Nigeria, as it exists as a court of first and last resort.

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