APPRAISING THE DYNAMICS OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS JURISDICTION OF THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT OF NIGERIA: PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS
Keywords:National Industrial Court, Constitution, Act, Jurisdiction, Human rights, Legal status, Mandate
From the time of its establishment in 1976, the National Industrial Court of Nigeria suffered from a number of constraints and jurisdictional crises. Foremost among these was its non- recognition as a superior court of record as well as the fact that it had no exclusivity of jurisdiction with regards to labour related matters. The passage of the Third Alteration Act to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria came as a ground breaking intervention by firmly entrenching the status of the court as a superior court of record as well as conferring on it exclusive jurisdiction on labour matters. The expansion of the jurisdiction of the court to include among others, human rights issues that have a bearing on labour disputes also carried with it diverse thorny issues that need to be properly addressed and resolved. This paper therefore, attempts to comprehensively identify and analyse these issues bordering on the jurisdiction of the court with special focus on the boundaries of its special human rights jurisdiction as touching on the employer employee relationship. The paper adopts the doctrinal research method in undertaking this research and finds that the expansion of the jurisdiction of the court and the exclusivity of jurisdiction in all such other matters has the potential of restricting access to justice. It calls for the removal of exclusivity of jurisdiction in non-labour related matters, with state high courts having concurrent jurisdiction as well as the creation of additional divisions of the National Industrial Court.