The National Industrial Court on Wednesday ordered the Academic Staff Union of Universities to call off its seven-month old strike action and for lecturers to return to classes.
ASUU has been on strike since February 14, 2022 over unmet demands for improved funding for universities, salary review, among other issues.
After numerous unproductive meetings, the federal government approached the industrial court to challenge the legality of the strike.
The federal government vowed not to pay over six months salaries of the striking lecturers, for the period which the strike lasted.
The federal government’s counsel, James Igwe, SAN, had filed an application for an order restraining ASUU from continuing with the strike pending the determination of the suit initiated through a referral by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.
The union’s lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, however urged the court to dismiss the federal government’s application, and instead, grant an accelerated hearing of the main suit.
The judge, Polycarp Hamman, in his ruling on Wednesday, granted the government’s prayer by issuing an interlocutory injunction against the ongoing ASUU strike.
Justice Hamman agreed with the government’s lawyer that the strike “has done irreparable damage to the lives of the affected students”, and the country’s education system.
He said not granting the injunction would only cause additional damage to the ambitions of young Nigerians, who are now idle at home as a result of the strike.
He cited examples of the National Youth Service Corps and employment in Nigeria’s armed forces where age is a requirement for participation and employment.
He also said the Trade Dispute Act prohibits parties from engaging in an industrial action when disputes have been referred to the industrial court, the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) or when a conciliator has been appointed.
Meanwhile, ASUU has vowed to explore other options after the judgment.
While addressing reporters after proceedings, ASUU’s counsel, Edorjeh Edo, said:“There are quite a number of options open to the union. We will study with the legal team and then we will adopt the most appropriate action.”
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