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How Nigerian Industrial Court Granted Directive By Labour Minister, Ngige To Order Striking University Lecturers, ASUU To Resume Work

ASUU
September 21, 2022

The Nigerian government had directed the National Industrial Court to order ASUU members to resume work, while the issues in dispute were being addressed by the court.

The order by the National Industrial Court asking the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to end its current strike and resume classes is the result of a directive given to the court by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige.

The Nigerian government had directed the National Industrial Court to order ASUU members to resume work, while the issues in dispute were being addressed by the court.

The referral instrument addressed to the Registrar of Industrial Court was dated September 7, 2022, and signed by the labour minister.

“Issue ORDER for ASUU members to resume work in their various universities while the issues in dispute are being addressed by the NICN in consonance with the provisions of Section 18 (I) (b) of the Trade Dispute Act. CAP. T8, LFN 2004,” Ngige had told the court in the document obtained by SaharaReporters.

ASUU has been on strike since February 14 to press home the demand for improved funding for universities, and a review of salaries for lecturers, among other issues.

Several meetings between ASUU and the federal government have ended in a deadlock.

Consequently, the Nigerian government through Ngige went to court to challenge the strike.

James Igwe, counsel for the government, 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 said the suit was filed in the national interest, adding that the strike will result in irreparable damage to Nigerian students and the country.

The counsel had submitted that section 18(1)E of the Trade Disputes Act provides that employees cannot be on strike when a matter is before the industrial court.

Opposing the application, Femi Falana, counsel for ASUU, said asking the union to resume work is “wrong and scandalous”.

He said there would not have been a need to embark on any strike if the applicants had kept to various agreements and MoUs reached in the past.

He also said the injunction was not necessary as there is no urgency since the strike had lasted for seven months.

Ruling on the application on Wednesday, Polycarp Hamman, the judge, granted the request.

He held that the strike is detrimental to public university students who cannot afford to attend private tertiary institutions.

He said the TDA mandates workers not to embark on strike once an issue has been referred to the industrial court.

The court order comes a few hours after the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) threatened not to allow any political campaign to hold across the country till students of public universities return to classrooms.

Chairman, NANS National Taskforce, Ojo Olumide, announced this at a press conference in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, on Wednesday, some days to September 28, the official date for candidates to kick off campaign as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

“Our blocking of access to public roads and ports is just a warning. If the government fails to conclude all the negotiations and agreement with ASUU within the frame of two weeks, they will witness more protests and rallies all over the country, they will also witness the annoyance, anger and frustration of Nigerians Students who have been at home for the past seven months.

“As we promise them that we will not allow any political campaign to hold across the country until we are back to class. This government has pushed so many Nigerian students into depression. We say enough is enough; we can no longer bear the brunt of this avoidable crisis in our nation's public ivory towers again,” he said.