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      ASUU Strike: The court will rule on FG’s lawsuit on Wednesday

      The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is currently on strike, and the federal government has asked the National Industrial Court to issue an order telling it to end the strike.

      After hearing the arguments made by the attorneys for the parties, Justice Polycarp Hamman adjourned the case.

      In his argument, J.U.K. Igwe, SAN, the attorney for FG, stated that the application for the injunction was dated September 12 and submitted on the same day.

      Mr. Igwe added that it was supported by a 21-paragraph affidavit deposed to Okechukwu Wampa, a legal adviser in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, three exhibits, and an undertaking as to damages deposed to by Mr. Wampa. Mr. Igwe further stated that it was predicated on 11 grounds.

      Additionally, he requested that the court grant the requested prayer and then adopted the written argument in its entirety, stressing that the claimants had complied with all prerequisites for the court to grant the injunction.

      In regards to damages, he claimed that the claimant’s action was not apprehensive and that the seven months of lost time due to the strike could not be made up.

      He urged the court to grant the injunction and concluded by stating that a worker should not go on strike while a case is already in court in accordance with section 18 (1) (e) of the Trade Disputes Act 2004.

      Femi Falana, the defendant’s attorney, announced that the president of ASUU had submitted a nine-paragraph counter-affidavit on September 16 and that it was in front of the court.

      Additionally, Mr. Falana argued that the minister lacked the authority to request that the court instruct ASUU to end its strike in the referral.

      He also emphasized that the claimants had violated part 1 of the TDA 2004, which stated that only an individual has the right to approach the court and that a trade union must first go to the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) before approaching the court, for the claimants had not followed due process.

      According to him, the union could only appeal the IAP decision to the NICN.

      Mr. Falana added that although the Attorney-General was listed as a party in the lawsuit in the letter that accompanied the referral, the name was absent from the application that was submitted to the court.

      He added that since the strike had already been going on for so long, there was no need for the referral asking for an expedited hearing.

      He further argued that the claimants’ conduct in asking the court to interpret the 2009 Agreement should be discounted and that the balance of convenience was not on their side.

      Finally, he requested that the application be denied or that the court order the parties to the IAP.

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

      When Mr. Falana argued that the defendant’s preliminary objection to the court’s jurisdiction should be considered before any other application, the court previously ruled in favor of the claimants.

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

      The defendant’s objection, according to Mr. Igwe, won’t be prejudiced because it can be adopted and considered along with the substantive at a later time.

      Additionally, he claimed that the preliminary objection was not ready for hearing because it had only been served to him 14 minutes before the proceeding began.

      The judge had agreed with Mr. Igwe’s contention and had instructed the attorneys to move forward with the interlocutory injunction application and the corresponding counter-affidavit.

      On behalf of the federal government, the Minister of Labor and Employment referred the case to the court in order to address the issue of the ongoing ASUU strike.

      (NAN)

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