Thursday, September 29, 2022

ASUU Strike: Court to deliver ruling in FG’s suit Wednesday

The federal government filed the matter before the court to resolve the issue of the ongoing strike by ASUU.

• September 19, 2022
Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)

The National Industrial Court is to deliver a ruling in the application filed by the federal government seeking the order to direct the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to call off its ongoing strike.

Justice Polycarp Hamman adjourned the matter after listening to the arguments of the counsel on behalf of the parties.

J.U.K Igwe, SAN, counsel to FG, in his submission, had informed the court that the application for the injunction was dated September 12 and filed on the same date.

Mr Igwe further stated that it was predicated on 11 grounds, supported by a 21-paragraph affidavit deposed to 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 Mr Wampa.

He also urged the court to grant the prayer sought and proceeded to adopt the written address in its entirety and totality, adding that the claimants had met all the requirements to enable the court to grant the injunction.

He cited that claimant’s action was not apprehensive, and regarding damages, he said the lost time of seven months of the strike could not be regained.

He concluded by saying that going by the provision of section 18 (1) (e) of the Trade Disputes Act 2004, a worker should not embark on strike when a matter is already before the court and urged the court to grant the injunction.

Femi Falana, counsel to the defendant, stated that he had before the court a nine-paragraph counter-affidavit filed on September 16 by the president of ASUU.

Mr Falana, in addition, argued that the minister lacked the power to order the court in the referral to direct ASUU to call off its strike.

He also pointed out that the claimants did not follow due process in part 1 of TDA 2004, which stipulated that only an individual has the right to approach the court as a trade union will first need to go to the Industrial Arbitration Panel ( IAP), before coming to the court.

He said the union could only approach the NICN to appeal the decision of IAP.

Mr Falana also said the letter that accompanied the referral had the name of the Attorney-General as a party in the suit, but the application filed before the court was without the name.

He also said the referral asking for an accelerated hearing was not necessary as there was no urgency in the matter as the strike had lasted for seven months.

He also 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.

He finally urged the court to dismiss the application or direct parties to the IAP.

In response, Mr Igwe submitted that the minister did not order the court and that the letter attached to the referral was not a legal document as the notice of referral superseded the letter.

Earlier, the court ruled in favour of the claimants when Mr Falana argued that the defendant’s preliminary objection to the court’s jurisdiction should be taken before any other application.

However, Mr Igwe had argued that the court, in its decision on September 16, slated Monday for a hearing.

Mr Igwe, in addition, stated that the defendant’s objection would not be prejudiced as it can be adopted and taken with the substantive at a later date.

He also argued that the preliminary objection was not ripe for hearing as it was just served on him about 14 minutes before the proceeding was f the day.

The court had upheld Mr Igwe’s argument and directed counsel to proceed with the interlocutory injunction application and the counter-affidavit to the same.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, on behalf of the federal government, filed the matter before the court by way of referral to resolve the issue of the ongoing strike by ASUU.


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