President of the National Industrial Court – the equivalent of a judge- abandoned court ethics demanding his neutrality, rebuked a government lawyer for incompetence, before personally taking over the lawyer’s role and then barred labour unions from their proposed Monday strike.
It was a curious case, decided as late as 6pm on Friday, and processed in subtle ways before an injunction was awarded in favour of the federal government, against the planned strike over fuel subsidy removal.
The federal government’s assigned lawyer, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Fabian Ajogwu, had absented himself from proceedings, assigning the case seeking to curb the strike to a junior, Mathew Echo.
Mr. Echo’s arguments were not satisfactory to the judge, Babatunde Adejumo, who literally took over the arguments against the proposed strike for the government. But not before lambasting the junior lawyer for ineffectiveness.
The president of the court wondered why a Senior Advocate of Nigeria would entrust such a “sensitive and important” case to a junior lawyer.
When Mr. Echo could not cite an authority to back his case, Mr. Adejumo cited the authority for him.
Thereafter, the judges ruled at about 5:40 p.m, after deciding that the court had the jurisdiction to issue a restraining order against the strike.
The president of the court, Mr. Adejumo, said economic activities would be adversely affected if labour was allowed to proceed with the strike.
He ordered the attorney general to serve the court’s decision on the defendants by advertising it in ThisDay and two other national newspapers. The case was then adjourned to Thursday January 12, 2012.