The Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of the University (ASUU) could not meet to discuss the option of an out-of-court settlement thrown to them by the three-member panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal hearing the appeal against the ruling of the National Industrial Court, Abuja ordering the University lecturers to return back to the classroom.
The panel, headed by Justice Hama Barka had, on Wednesday, advised Femi Falana and James Igwe, representing ASUU and FG respectively to meet and discuss an out-of-court settlement of the dispute and report back to the court on Thursday.
But, when the matter was called, counsel to ASUU told the court that parties have set machinery in motion for an amicable resolution of the subject matter.
“While appreciating the court’s intervention and quality advice given to counsel on Wednesday, we are happy to announce that, we have set machinery in motion for an amicable settlement of the dispute.
“My colleague from the other side and myself had begun the consultations. We agreed that, upon the conclusion of the proceedings of today, we are going to continue the consultations with a view to ending the strike as soon as possible”, Falana told the court and suggested that the application he filed challenging the ruling of the trial court should remain in the record of the court for now, while consultations continue.
However, Counsel to the Federal Government told the court that Falana’s last submission was inconsistent with what both of them agreed on and that proceedings should go on.
According to him, Falana could not pick up his call on Wednesday for them to meet and talk, only for him to call him back at about 9 pm to apologize that he was in a meeting.
“We agreed that we should let the court hear his application, after which, I will take him to the Minister. It will not be nice to keep his application in abeyance while the consultation is going on. The substance of the matter is still there, it has not been crushed,” he added.
Igwe therefore, informed the court that no amicable settlement was reached and prayed the court allow Falana to move his application and that, the court should refuse Falana’s request for adjournment and take his application.
In his response, Falana said the Minister cannot solve the problem alone as the President is still meeting with stakeholders on the matter.
He said, however, that since the counter affidavit and other court processes were served on him in court Thursday morning by the respondent, he needed tom to respond to them.
Igwe then told the court that ASUU’s application was a ploy to delay proceedings in the matter, saying that the appellant’s applications dated September 23 and 28 are the same, except for the date that was changed.
“If he didn’t mean to delay proceedings, he would have withdrawn the application dated September 23.”
The Court however stood down the matter to enable Falana to go through the counter affidavit of the respondent and reply orally.