Palpable tension has soaked Rivers State following an order by the National Industrial Court for the reinstatement of 22 local government chairmen sacked by a Port Harcourt High Court last week.
The Federal High Court presided over by Justice Lambo Akanbi had on July 9, nullified the May 23 local government elections held in the state.
In his ruling in a case brought by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Justice Akanbi ruled that the poll conducted by the Augustine Ahiauzu-led Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission was illegal.
The Court further held that the election was conducted in disobedience of an injunction.
The PDP had boycotted the election citing court injunction, which ordered that the status quo be maintained.
The party of then governor, Rotimi Amaechi, the All Progressives Congress, won 22 of the 23 chairmanship seats in the elections.
The party also won 297 councillorship seats in the 302 wards while other political parties won the rest.
Justice Akanbi said conducting the elections despite a court order was a demonstration of executive lawlessness and impunity.
The PDP had in suit no. FHC/PH/CS/84/2015, prayed the court to declare the conduct of the elections illegal and of no effect.
But on Monday, Justice Agbadu-Fishim of the National Industrial Court, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, issued a counter ruling and ordered the reinstatement of the sacked 22 council chairmen.
He also directed the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, to enforce the ruling of the court.
Justice Agbadu-Fishim, however, advised all the parties in matter to appear before him on October 5, for hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
The same court had on June 22, restrained the state governor, Nyesom Wike, the house of assembly and the attorney-general of the state and their agents from dissolving, suspending, sacking terminating or in any manner whatsoever interfering with the tenure of office of the 23 local government councils in the state.
The interim order was given on June 22, in suit no: NICN/YEN/26/2015, following a motion ex-parte and affidavit of extreme urgency filed by chairmen of the 23 local government councils on behalf of themselves, and the 23 local government councils of the state.
The order also restrained the IGP or his agents and proxies from enforcing any purported action detrimental to the existence of the 23 chairmen and councils in the state.
When contacted, the Special Adviser to the Rivers State governor on Media and Publicity, Ipunabo Inko-Taria, insisted that the ruling by Justice Agbadu-Fishim is spurious, malicious and calculated to cause crisis in the state.
“The story of the reinstatement of the local government chairmen sacked by the Hon. Justice Lambo akanbi by the Industrial Court in Yenegoa is spurious, malicious and a calculated act to stimulate crisis in the state,” Mr. Inko-Taria stated.
“There is no ounce of truth in the story. I urge Rivers people to dismiss the falsehood dispensed by some frustrated elements who are bent on provoking crises to make the state ungovernable. They have failed.
Section 7 (1) of the National Industrial Court Act, 2006, provides that the court shall have exclusive jurisdiction in civil cases and matters relating to labour, including trade unions and industrial relations.
Other issues include environment and conditions of work, health, safety and welfare of labour; and matters incidental thereto;
The court also has jurisdiction relating to the grant of any order to restrain any person or body from taking part in any strike, lock-out or any industrial action, or any conduct in contemplation or in furtherance of a strike, lock-out or any industrial action;
It is also empowered to determine any question as to the interpretation of any collective agreement; any award made by an arbitral tribunal in respect of a labour dispute or an organisational dispute; the terms of settlement of any labour dispute or organisational dispute as may be recorded in any memorandum of settlement; any trade union constitution; and any award or judgment of the Court.
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