Nigerian authorities have failed to secure a court order stopping unions from holding a strike in protest over a new fuel tax.
Cheap fuel encouraged smuggling and shortages, the government says
The Abuja Appeals Court has ruled that it has no jurisdiction over the matter.
However, the government can have its suit against the National Labour Congress (NLC) heard by the Federal High Court.
Nigeria's trade unions postponed a general strike over the tax last month following a court order.
The trade union leader Adams Oshiomhole has said they will now meet to decide whether they will resume the strike.
" The government's attitude to the court's
judgement is critical. It's what government does or fails to do, or how they do it, that determines our response" said Mr Oshiomhole.
The fuel tax adds 1.5 naira, the equivalent of one US cent, to the price of a litre of petrol.
However, it came after a big jump in petrol prices in the second half of 2003 when President Olusegun Obasanjo pushed through the abolition of subsidies on petrol.
The NLC says that higher fuel prices hurt the poor.