Northern Nigerian Breaking News

Strike : Court adjourns ASUU, FG suit

The Federal Government’s court case against the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been adjourned till September 16th.

It was adjourned by Justice Polycap Hamman to allow both parties ample time to file the necessary papers for the lawsuit.

The Federal Government took the Union to the National Industrial Court over its ongoing strike in a bid to force the union and its members to resume academic activities while the issues under contention are being addressed by the court.

The matter was brought to the court by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, on behalf of the FG.

The referral instrument addressed to the Registrar of Industrial Court was dated September 8, 2022, and signed by the Minister.

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The case was scheduled for 9am this morning (Monday) and the government wants the court to determine if the strike is legal or not.

During the court proceeding today, a lawyer representing the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Mr. Ebunolu Adegoruwa, SAN, told the court that he had filed a similar suit regarding the same issue with the court.

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He added that SERAP is the claimant, the federal government was also the defendant in the suit, which was numbered NICN/ABJ/269/2022, and as such both suits should be consolidated with SERAP added as a defendant on the FG’s suit instead of multiple suits on the same issue before the court.

Counsel to the FG, Tijjani Gazali (SAN), however, said Adegoruwa’s application was premature because that case was not billed for mention until Monday. Counsel to ASUU, Femi Falana, said both counsels had informed him that they were filing papers on Monday.

Eventually, the judge ruled that SERAP’s suit is not ripe for consolidation, he ordered both parties to file and exchange court documents before adjourning the matter till Friday, 16th September 2022.

The referral instrument filed by the FG asks the court to, “Inquire into the legality or otherwise of the on-going prolonged strike by ASUU leadership and members which had continued even after apprehension by the Minister of Labour and Employment.

“Interpret in its entirety the provisions of Section 18, LFN 2004 especially as it applies to cessation of strike once a trade dispute is apprehended by the Minister of Labour end Employment and conciliation is on-going”.

The other requests which the FG made to the court are: “Determine whether ASUU members are entitled to emoluments or “strike pay” during their period of strike, which commenced on February 14, 2022, more so in view of our national law as provided in Section 43 of the TDA and the International Labour Principles on the right to strike as well as the decisions of the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association on the Subject.

“Interpret the provisions of Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act, Cap T8. LFN 2004, titled “Special Provision with Respect to payment of wages during Strikes and Lock-outs,” specifically dealing with the rights of employees/workers during the period of any strike or lock-out. Can ASUU or any other union that embarked on strike be asking to be paid salaries even with clear provisions of the law?

“Determine whether ASUU has the right to embark on strike over disputes as is the case in this instance by compelling the Federal Government to employ its own University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) in the payment of the wages of its members as against the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) universally used by the Federal Government in the nation for payment of wages of all her employees in the Federal Government Public Service of which university workers including ASUU members are part of or even where the government via NITDA subjected ASUU and their counterpart IPPPS university payment platform system software to integrity test (vulnerability and stress test) and they failed.”

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