CEM REPORT, EDUCATION | The National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) delivering it’s judgement on the Federal Government (FG) suit against the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), ordered the union to suspend its seven-month-old strike.
The presiding judge, Justice Polycarp Hamman, gave the order on Wednesday, in a ruling on the federal government’s application for an interlocutory injunction against the ongoing ASUU strike.
The federal government’s counsel, James Igwe, had filed the application seeking an order restraining ASUU from continuing with the strike pending the determination of the suit initiated through a referral by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.
Hamman, in granting the order dismissed ASUU’s objection to the application stating that not granting the injunction would only cause additional damage to the ambition of young Nigerians.
He agreed with the government that irreparable damage was being done to the lives of students rendered idle by the ongoing strike.
He cited examples of the National Youth Service Corps and employment in Nigeria’s armed forces where age is a requirement for participation and employment.
He also said the Trade Dispute Act prohibits parties from engaging in an industrial action when disputes have been referred to the industrial court, the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) or when a conciliator has been appointed.
Counsel to the union, Femi Falana, had urged the court to dismiss the federal government’s application, and instead, grant an accelerated hearing of the main suit.
He had argued that the affidavit filed by Ikechukwu Wamba, a legal officer at the Ministry of Labour and Employment in support of the application should not be admitted as the deponent was neither a member of the university community nor part of any meetings held with the union.
However Justice Hamman disagreed, saying Wamba as a legal officer and a member of management at the labour ministry had access to the official documents of the negotiations as well as offering legal advice to the minister.
He also disagreed with Falana’s submission that the government has not made necessary moves to curtail the strike since it commenced in February.
He said pieces of evidence from meetings with the government which began days after the strike until 1st September proved negotiations had been ongoing.
However, addressing reporters after proceedings, ASUU’s counsel, Edorjeh Edo, said the union has options and will study them for further actions.
“There are quite a number of actions open to the union. We will study with the legal team and then we will adopt the most appropriate action.”