by Emmanuel Adeleke
The National Industrial Court (NIC), on Monday, adjourned the Federal Government’s suit against the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over the lingering strike to September 16, 2022.
The Federal Government had approached the NIC sitting in Abuja, to order ASUU to call off its seven months strike.
A statement by the Head, Press and Public Relations in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun, said that the matter was referred to the Registrar of the NIC by the minister, Chris Ngige, on September 8.
During Monday’s proceedings, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) sought to join the suit as an interested party.
SERAP’s lawyer, Ebunolu Adegboruwa (SAN), explained that his client had filed a similar suit to compel the Federal Government to honour its 2009 agreement with the striking lecturers.
He said SERAP’s request to join the matter is based on the need to forestall the duplicity of outcomes concerning the industrial dispute.
However, counsel to the Federal Government, Tijjani Gazali (SAN), opposed SERAP’s application to join the suit.
He told the judge that SERAP’s application was premature as the case was billed for mention on Monday.
Counsel to ASUU, Femi Falana (SAN) also said that he was aware of the efforts by lawyers to file court papers in the suit, on Monday.
Ruling, Justice Polycap Hamman held that the suit is not ripe for consolidation by SERAP, adding that he was only presiding over the matter as a vacation judge and that the case would be assigned to another judge for adjudication.
He ordered the parties in the suit to file and exchange court documents. He subsequently adjourned the matter to Friday, September 16, 2022.
Speaking to journalists outside the court, counsel to ASUU, Falana, berated the Federal Government for going to the court. He said the Federal Government should stop trying to blackmail ASUU, maintaining that university lecturers have not stopped working.
On his part, the counsel to the Federal Government, Tijanni Gazali, said ASUU cannot dictate to the Federal Government what platform its members are to be paid.
He said the agreement reached between the Federal Government and ASUU has been substantially implemented, adding that details of their agreement will form part of the papers they will be filing before the court.