The striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), yesterday approached the Court of Appeal, Abuja for an order to stay the execution of a court judgement ordering it to end its ongoing nationwide strike.
The university teachers have been on strike since February 14, to press home their demands for improved funding for universities and a review of salaries for lecturers, among other issues.
Justice Polycarp Hamman of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Abuja Division, had on Wednesday, while delivering ruling in an interlocutory injunction application by the federal government, restrained ASUU from continuing with the strike.
The judge had predicated his decision on Section 18 of the Trade Dispute Act, that empowers him to make such decisions in the interest of the nation.Dissatisfied, the university lecturers yesterday filed a Notice of Appeal to challenge the order of the Industrial Court.
ASUU through its lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, had in a motion sought the leave of the court “to appeal against the interlocutory ruling of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria per Honourable Justice P.1. Hamman.”
The appellant also prayed the court for another order, “staying execution of the order of Justice Hamman … pending the hearing and determination of the interlocutory Appeal.”
ASUU is claiming that the ruling of Justice Hamman affects its fundamental rights to fair hearing, adding that it would be in the interest of justice to stay the execution of same pending the hearing and determination of the Appeal arising thereto.
In the 14 grounds of proposed notice of appeal, ASUU is claiming that the trial Judge “erred in law and thereby occasioned a miscarriage of justice when he decided to hear and determine the Respondents’ motion for interlocutory injunction when he knew or ought to have known that the substantive suit filed by the Claimant was not initiated by due process of law.”
ASUU in grounds two of the appeal also claimed that Justice Hamman misdirected himself in law and occasioned a miscarriage of justice when he decided to hear other motions before the motion challenging court’s jurisdiction on the matter.
The appellant further submitted that the learned trial judge erred in law when he held that “pursuant to Section 17 of the Trade Dispute Act, Section 18(1) E mandates the members of the Defendants/Respondents not to take part in any strike pending the determination of the suit.”
After several failed attempts to get the striking lecturers back to work while negotiations continue, the government opted for the current court action and prayed the court to compel ASUU to end the nearly seven months old strike in the interest of the nation and the Nigerian students who are suffering the most from the strike.
The Ministry of Labour had approached the industrial court to challenge the refusal of the striking lecturers to end the nearly seven months old strike, claiming that millions of students have been out of school since February 14, 2022 when they went on strike.
(Adapted from a report by THISDAY)