The President of the National Industrial Court, Justice Babatunde Adejumo, has described labour as the nerve centre of any country, saying without labour no country can survive.
The judge said this last week in Lagos during “A Day of Tributes” organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress in honour of the late Chief Gani Adetola-Kaseem (SAN), a frontline Labour Law practitioner, who died in January this year at the age of 69.
The event attracted judges, notable lawyers, and leaders of labour unions, including the NLC, the Joint Health Sector Unions; Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria; and the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives.
While the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, was represented by Joseph Ikyegh of the appellate court, the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria was represented by its Secretary, Mr Seyi Sowemimo (SAN).
Others in attendance included Justice Habib Abiru of the Court of Appeal, Justice Benedict Kanyip of the National Industrial Court, as well as Justices E.A. Orji, P.A. Bassey and M. Tijani.
In attendance also was the NLC President, Dr. Ayuba Wabba, and a former Dean of the Faculty of Law, Lagos State University, Prof Chioma Agomo.
Justice Adejumo, who was chairman on the occasion, described the late Adetola-Kaseem as a frontline practitioners among labour lawyers in the country, noting that alongside the late Bamidele Aturu, also a Labour Law expert of note, he did “a lot of things to bring Labour Law to the stage where it is today.”
“Without labour, no country can survive…In any country that is developed or developing, go through the history of that country, you’ll see that the labour movement has played a lot of significant roles,” Justice Adejumo said.
The Head, Department of Jurisprudence and International Law, at the University of Lagos, Prof Hakeem Olaniyan, who delivered a lecture titled, “The Development of Nigerian Labour Law Jurisprudence: The Roles of Chief Gani Adetola-Kaseem, SAN, (1948 – 2018),” described the late lawyer as a thorough bred and unassuming practitioner.
The don, who highlighted some of the landmark cases handled by the late Adetola-Kaseem, said his works contributed in no small measure to the evolution of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria to the status of a court of superior jurisdiction in labour-related matters.
He said the deceased would also be remembered for associating with Muslims and fighting their legitimate causes.
“He was the lead counsel in the case of AbdulKareem v. Lagos State Government (Supra), in which the Court of Appeal recognised that Muslim pupils in public secondary schools have a right to put on hijab and that that cannot be overridden on the basis of administrative discretion.
“He also defended the cause of Islamic Banking in the case of Ogboji v. Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria.
“He was, above all, a humanist and associated freely and fairly with many people of different religious persuasions and benefitted them,” Olaniyan said.