Two members of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Petroleum Equalisation Fund Management Board (PEFMB), have demanded the sum of N50 million against the association over alleged illegal suspension.
The claimants – Gambo Muhammed and Declan Agrinya, had approached the National Industrial Court to seek redress over what they described as illegal suspension by the association. According to them, the suspension resulted in the withholding of their benefits and entitlements since September 2017. When the matter came up yesterday before Justice Edith Agbakoba, the defence counsel, Rudolph Ezeani prayed the court for an adjournment to enable him to enter an appearance and also move his preliminary objections.
In the originating summons, Muhammed claimed that they were suspended on February 25, 2014, from the association by the PEF(M)B branch without being afforded the right to a fair hearing. The claimants are contending that their suspension letters dated May 16, 2016, was wrong, illegal, null and void. They are therefore seeking a declaration that the action was against Sections 6 (6) and 40 of the Nigerian Constitution; Section 12 (1) of the Trade Unions Act; Rules 4, 28 and 31; Schedules 2 and 3 of the Constitution of PENGASSAN, 2013.
They traced their problem to the expiration of the tenure of executive committee members of the association’s PEF(M)B branch on November 29, 2015, and instead of conducting another election, the same executives were given the approval to continue in an interim capacity, which was contrary to the set down guidelines. They further claimed that they have exhausted available mechanism in a bid to resolve the issue, including a letter dated December 4, 2015, to the defendant. “It was because there was no response that we proceeded to court to file the first suit on January 13, 2016”, they told the court. The matter has been adjourned till November 11.