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ASUU vs FG: Court orders lecturers back to work 

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.Union to appeal order, files stay of execution

. Strike is burden of salvaging Nigeria on Labour Party’s shoulder –Peter Obi

 

Obiora Ifoh, and Chigozie Ikpo, Abuja

 

The National Industrial Court on Wednesday, has granted the application for an interlocutory injunction filed by the Federal Government against the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

 

Justice Peter Hamman granted the prayer of the Federal Government seeking an order of the court restraining ASUU from further continuing with the ongoing nationwide strike.

 

Justice Hamman held that damages of the prolonged strike are irreparable, especially in the interest of innocent students who are forced to sit at home due to the strike action and therefore mandated the striking lecturers to call off the strike with immediate effect.

 

Recall that on Monday, Lawyer to FG, J. U. Igwe, SAN, had prayed the court to order the striking varsity lecturers to return to the classroom, pending the determination of the suit.

 

He maintained that the matter was not only urgent but of great national interest as millions of students have been at home since February 14.

 

Igwe said “Sections 47 of the Trade Dispute Act gives your lordship the power to direct that no worker should continue to embark on strike pending when the applications are heard and determined.”

 

According to him, since the dispute between FG and lecturers is already before the court for adjudication, it would be proper and in the interest of justice for the strike action to be called off.

 

In response, Counsel to ASUU, Femi Falana, SAN, said the union was currently meeting with stakeholders to ensure an amicable resolution of all the issues.

 

He therefore appealed to the government to cooperate with the union to resolve the ongoing issues surrounding the strike action.

 

Besides, he faulted a referral the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige forwarded to the court for an order to compel ASUU to return to work.

 

The senior lawyer argued that such referral amounted to a directive from the Minister to the court.

 

He maintained that neither a Minister nor the President could wield such powers as to control a court of competent jurisdiction.

 

Meanwhile, before he gave FG the nod to move its application for interim injunction, Justice Hamman, waved aside a preliminary objection that ASUU filed against it.

 

The Judge held that the preliminary objection was not ripe for hearing, adding that rules of the court made provision for such objection to be heard alongside the substantive suit.

 

In a Judgement delivered on Wednesday, Justice Hamman said “with respect to the known issue, that an interlocutory injunction is an equitable remedy, to prevent an irreparable injury before the determination of the suit.

 

He said that for the Interlocutory Injunction sought by the Applicant (FG) seeking relief of court, such applicant must satisfy some conditions, adding that an interlocutory injunctions are granted at the discretion of the court.

 

“This court has taken into influence the innocent students who have been at home for over seven months, and parents who cannot send their children to private schools in a country where age is a factor for employment and where the innocent children are affected directly” the judge held

 

He noted that hence, the National Youth Service Corp puts the age limit at 30 and employment into the Nigerian Armed forces has an age benchmark of 30, the affected Young Nigerians are at a huge disadvantage.

 

The Judge held that the balance of convenience tilts to the granting of the Application as damages of the prolonged strike are irreparable.

 

He also said that “In the circumstance of this suit, since it has been referred to this Honourable court, the defendants cannot partake in this strike.

 

Justice Hamman hereby granted the order of interlocutory injunction.

 

He also granted an order restraining ASUU from taking any action further steps on the matter, and ordered the striking workers to call of the strike action with immediate effect.

 

Speaking outside the court, Lawyer to FG, Igwe, lamented that education has been halted for the last seven months which ought not to be and expressed his happiness in the judgement by the Judiciary.

 

Also speaking, Counsel to ASUU, Dr. Edoh J. Edoh, said “The judgement has come, the court has ruled that members of ASUU are restrained from continuing the strike action, and that they should return back to the classrooms pending the determination of the substantive suit.

 

“As per the next action, there are quite a number of actions open to the union, we will study the rulling with the legal team, and then we will adopt the most appropriate option.

 

Meanwhile, The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has reacted to the Industrial Court judgement which ordered her members to suspend their ongoing strike immediately.

 

the National Industrial Court in Abuja on Wednesday ordered ASUU to immediately suspend the ongoing industrial action and return back to work.

 

Justice Polycarp Hamman of the Industrial Court held that the strike was a breach of the Section 18(1)(2) of the Trade Disputes Act, which prohibits their action.

 

Reacting, ASUU, on its Facebook page, noted that the Association’s Lawyer is filing an appeal and a stay of execution on the matter immediately.

 

“Our lawyer is filing an appeal and stay of execution of the judgment. A people united can never be defeated,” ASUU wrote.

 

Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has rejected Wednesday’s ruling of the Industrial Court, describing it as a “black market judgment.”

 

He also urged the Federal Government to fulfill its own part of the bargain to avoid a repeat of the issues.

However,  the Presidential candidate of Labour Party in the 2023 elections, Mr Peter Obi, has stated that the party carries on his shoulder the burden of salvaging Nigeria from all her socio-economic woes despite being the smallest of the political parties.

 

Mr Obi stated this Wednesday in his virtual address to the strategic session of Labour Party National Working Committee, State chairmen and Senatorial candidates in Abuja.

 

The former Anambra State governor asserted that the strike embarked upon by members of the Academic Staff Union of University,ASUU, and the many other problems confronting Nigeria, “must compel us to reassert or resolve to ensure  that there is leadership change in Nigeria come 2023.”

 

The 2023 presidential hopeful, who apologized for his inability to be physically part of strategic session held before the commencement of the electoral campaigns in about a week, reiterated his commitment to the course of ensuring leadership change in Nigeria in next year poll.

 

He urged stakeholders of the party to do whatever they can personally and collectively; to make all the necessary sacrifices to ensure that Labour party wins the 2023 general elections.

 

“We in LP are one family now; we will remain so during the campaign and after we win the elections.  I assure you that no one will be left behind,” Mr Obi stated.

 

Recall that ASUU has embarked on an industrial action over labour dispute with the federal government, which has left activities in the nation’s higher institutions paralyzed for the past seven months.

 

In a new development, the National Industrial Court on Wednesday ordered the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to go back to work.

 

The Federal Government had in a suit, prayed the court to order ASUU to call off its seven months strike.

 

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