The national industrial court of Nigeria (NICN) has ordered the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to call off its ongoing nationwide strike.
ASUU has been on strike since February 14 to press home the demand for improved funding for universities, a review of salaries for lecturers, adoption of UTAS as a replacement for IPPIS, among other issues, DAILY GIST reports
Several meetings between ASUU and the federal government have ended in a deadlock.
Consequently, the federal government went to court to challenge the strike.
The government through its counsel, James Igwe prayed the court for an interlocutory injunction restraining ASUU from taking further steps as regards the strike, pending the determination of the substantive suit.
Igwe SAN, urged the court to grant the interlocutory application because of its urgency as well as the infrastructural damage on tertiary institutions occasioned by the industrial action which began since February 14.
Igwe had said that based on trade union laws the court had powers to call off the ASUU strike while negotiations between the union and FG continues.
But Counsel to ASUU, Femi Falana SAN, had told the court that the FG must show how the strike has caused damage to tertiary institutions.
He had contended that the federal government’s refusal to fulfil its agreement with ASUU constitutes damage on the lecturers, their welfare and the wellbeing of educational institutions.
Falana urged the court to dismiss the application because it is based on hearsay and the federal government representative is not a member of the university community.
The court in it’s ruling on Wednesday granted the federal government’s application citing damage and conduct of parties.
It order the striking lecturers to call off the industrial action and resume work immediately.
Justice Polycarp Hamman oheld that the strike was a breach of the Section 18(1)(2) of the Trade Disputes Act, which prohibits their action.
He said the use of “shall” in the Act connotes mandatory provision not to embark on the strike pending the determination of the main suit before the court.
The Judge further held that the industrial action is detrimental to public university students who cannot afford to attend private tertiary institutions.
The judge noted that the strike has caused irreparable damage to the careers of many students in Nigeria.
He said it was obvious that the legal adviser of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment has access to legal issues relating to the trade dispute.
He also dismissed the argument of Femi Falana, counsel to ASUU, that the interlocutory injunction should be dismissed and the court should instead grant an accelerated hearing for the referral earlier filed by Mr Ngige.
He agreed that the FG who is the owners of federal universities stands to loose more if the application is not granted.
“Students have been out of school for 7 months in Nigeria where age is a factor in employment,” he said.
The judge added that the National Youth Service Corps even bars graduates aged 30 for going for youth service.
“I therefore hold that the balance of convenience tilts in favor of granting the application,” the judge said.
The judge said that the prolonged strike inflicts irreparable damage on Nigerian students and they have been at home since February 14, 2022.
Subsequently, the court suspended the ASUU strike citing its discretionary powers over trade union disputes.
Judge Hamman referred the case to the president of the court for reassignment to another judge
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