The Hon. President of the National Industrial Court, His Lordship, Hon. Justice Benedict Kanyip, Ph.D., FNIALS on Wednesday officially declared 2022/2023 New Legal year open, assured that the Court will continue to improve on its objectives on easy, affordable and quick dispensation of labour justice that meets global standards.
In his address, the Hon. President maintained that labour justice delivery, the hallmark of the court mandate will continue to be their mainstay in line with the international best practices, and also stated that the improvement of the welfare, and indeed wellbeing, of the Judges and staff of the Court will continue to be of utmost importance.
On the recent practice Direction issued on filing of Applications/Motions in Trade Union Matters and Marking of Exhibits in Originating Processes, Justice Kanyip stated that the reason behind the innovation is to cut trial time which is often wasted in marking documents in court; and to take care of the rule that states that courts are adjudicators, not investigators that it’s not for the court to search through documents to ascertain what is relevant to a litigant’s case.
On the criticism and reservation expressed by some commentators in that regard, Hon. President urged that the Practice Direction be given some time to enable the court to monitor its application and also implored for greater utilization of the trial on record procedure enjoined by the Rules of the court which have the capacity to have matters concluded within a few months of their filing as time is of the essence in the labour dispute.
Furthermore, on the unfortunate closure of the Owerri division of the Court, Hon. President, Justice Kanyip expressed that the court had to do the needful when the safety of the resident judge and staff could no longer be guaranteed.
Justice Kanyip maintained that the appeals from the person of goodwill in the state including local and Nigerian Bar Association are on the table for serious consideration that once the court gets the security guarantees and other agreed parameters for reopening.
His Lordship strongly opined that the future of the court looks very bright and the Court shall continue to strive to attain excellence by improving on the justice delivery mechanisms within the limits of the law.
Also in his remark, the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami while appreciating the contribution of the Court to the resolution of trade disputes and industrial relation matter in the country which has helped in rekindle foreign investor’s confidence in the stability of the industrial relations in Nigeria, urged the Hon. Justices of the Court to continue to maintain judicial sanctity and credibility and to remain unshaken at all times in order to foster and promote public confidence in all judgments and rulings that emanate from the court.
In the same development, the president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Yakubu Maikyau SAN confessed that the National Industrial Court remains a model court in many respects with regards to the approach of the Court to its constitutional responsibilities and the professionalism shown by its staff in matters of case management, correspondence with counsel and litigants and the discipline brought to bear in the aesthetics and general outlook of the Court across various divisions; commended their Lordships and the staff of the Court for the display of judicial courage, awareness and investment in corporate communications and relations which continues to distinguish the Court from others.
Also in his remark, the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria represented by Asiwaju Awomolo SAN expressed that the recent timely interventions of the court in industrial disputes all over the country have justified the wisdom in creating the court as a specialized court, and the court has continued to live up to its expectation through the timely dispensation of cases.
The eminent jurists who graced the event include Hon. Judge of the Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Keneth Amadi, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Hon. Justice John Tsoho, The Grand Khadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal, the Hon. Judges of the Federal High Court and Federal Capital Territory.
Others were the President of the Industrial Court, Trinidad and Tobago, Her Honour, Deborah Thomas-Felix, former President of the Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Babatunde Adejumo OFR (Retired) to mention a few.
Lastly, the Hon. President also expressed deepest appreciation to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, NJC, and FJSC for their support in the development of the court.
Justice Kanyip while extending thanks to the Judiciary Committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives for all their support, which has been immeasurable, stated that between July 2021 and June 2022 more than 2408 cases were disposed of.