Court orders Academic Staff Union of Universities to suspend strike

The National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) on Wednesday in Abuja ordered the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to suspend its seven-month-old strike, and in swift reaction the union challenged the order

Penpushing reports that, the judge, Justice Polycarp Hamman, gave the order in a ruling on the Nigerian government’s application for an interlocutory injunction against the ongoing Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike.

The counsel to the Nigerian government, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN) James Igwe,had filed the application seeking the court’s order restraining  the lecturers from continuing with the strike pending the determination of the suit initiated through a referral by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige.

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Penpushing further reports that, the union’s lawyer, Femi Falana, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), had urged the court to dismiss the Nigerian government’s application, and instead, grant an accelerated hearing of the main suit, but the judge, however, dismissed Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) objection to the application.

Penpushing also reports that, the judge in his submission agreed with the government that irreparable damage was being done to the lives of students rendered idle by the ongoing strike, stressing that not granting the injunction would only cause additional damage to the ambitions of young Nigerians.

The judge cited examples of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and employment in Nigeria’s armed forces where age is a requirement for participation and employment, and equally stated that 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.

Penpushing reports that, counsel to the union 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.

The judge, however disagreed, declaring 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.

Penpushing further reports that, the judge in contrary vein, disagreed with  Falana’s submission that the government has not made necessary moves to curtail the strike since it commenced in February, arguing that pieces of evidence from meetings with the government which began days after the strike until 1 September proved negotiations had been ongoing.

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