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ASUU Strike: What To Expect After Court Order


ASUU Strike: What To Expect After Court Order

Vanguard News

After a series of failed negotiations, the National Industrial Court of Nigeria on Wednesday ordered the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to call off its seven months strike and go back to work.

The court ruling came after the Federal Government, in a suit, had filed for an application for an order compelling ASUU to call off its strike.

Following the court ruling on ASUU, Vanguard spoke to legal practitioners, leaders of ASUU and labour unions to highlight ramifications of the subject matter.

Here in this report are expectations about the new development, as well as the legal interpretation of the court ruling on ASUU.

Arguments: FG vs ASUU counsels

Counsel to FG, Mr J.U.K Igwe, SAN in his submission had informed the court that the application for the injunction was predicated on 11 ground, supported by 21 paragraph affidavit deposed to Mr Okechukwu Wampa, a Legal Adviser in the Ministry of Labour and Employment , attached with three exhibits and an undertaking as to damages deposed to by Wampa.

But, ASUU’s counsel, Mr Femi Falana SAN, tabled before the court, a nine paragraph counter-affidavit filed on Sept. 16 deposed to by the president of ASUU, arguing that the minister lacked the power to order the court in the referral to direct ASUU to call off its strike.

He submitted that the balance of convenience was not on the side of the claimants and that the conduct of the claimants in the prayer for the court to interpret the 2009 Agreement should be discountenanced.

ASUU can choose to comply or appeal – Lawyers

Speaking on the court ruling, labour activist and human rights lawyer, Femi Aborisade stated the counsel to ASUU will advise ASUU appropriately on the action to take, adding that the ruling of the court can be appealed.

“It can be appealed from my point of view on the ground that counsel to ASUU, Femi Falana, SAN, the leading pro-labour lawyer in the country can challenge the jurisdiction of the court,” he said.

Aborisade, however, said the court ought to have taken the motion challenging its jurisdiction before going ahead to give a ruling on the interlocutory injunction sought by the federal government because without jurisdiction, whatever may have been done will be declared null and void.

“Categorically, that ruling can be appealed particularly in the situation in which the National Assembly – the Senate and the House of Reps – they are already intervening. Even the minister of Labour conceded in the speech he delivered recently that ASUU members have the right to go on strike.

“Besides, by virtue of Section 254C (1) sub (j) (i) collective agreement over which ASUU has been agitating since 1992 is enforceable. It is enforceable and the court should have actually fought at the non-implementation of the failing of collective agreement between ASUU and the federal government,” he said.

Another lawyer, who gave perspective of the law, Oraye St. Franklyn Esq noted that the ruling by the Industrial Court is an order of Court, which ASUU can either choose to comply with or appeal, but definitely not ignore as that would amount to contempt and bring a whole new twist to the issue.

St Franklyn said ASUU definitely has a right to appeal the interlocutory injunction restraining it from continuing further action on the strike or at best comply with the ruling, pending the determination of the substantive suit.

“The good thing is that Parties are in Court, following the serial breakdown of negotiations. The Court will definitely bring closure to the lingering issues raised by Parties, whether sooner or later and whithersoever the trial goes.

“A judgment will definitely bring finality to the issues and enable students, ASUU and the Government to make progress. As you may know, the wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine,” he added.

We await national to give directive – ASUU UNILAG

When asked to react to the court ruling, the Chairman of ASUU, University of Lagos chapter, UNILAG, Dr. Dele Ashiru simply said the Union will respond.

“So wait for the union to respond. I am not the union. It’s a national strike, it’s not a local strike.

Wait for the reaction of the national. The national body will give a directive as to what to do,” he said.

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