Education Blues: Court orders ASUU to suspend ongoing strike, union to appeal ruling

*Nigeria’s National Industrial Court has ordered the Academic Staff Union of Universities to call off its ongoing seven-month-old strike

*The National Association of Nigerian Students alleges the Federal Government has pushed several Nigerian students into depression over the lingering ASUU strike

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

The National Industrial Court has ruled the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) should suspend the ongoing seven-month-old strike in Nigeria.

ConsumerConnect learnt Justice Polycarp Hamman, while delivering a ruling on the interlocutory injunction filed by the Federal Government Wednesday, September 21, 2022, in Abuja, FCT, restrained the academic union from continuing with the industrial action, pending the determination of the suit.

President Muhammadu Buhari 

Justice Hamman, who is a vacation Judge, ordered that the case filed should be returned to the President of the Industrial Court for reassignment to another Judge.

The Judge further ruled that the lecturers’ industrial action is detrimental to public University students, who cannot afford to attend private tertiary institutions.

Hamman also stated that it the Trade Dispute Act mandates workers not to embark on strike once an issue has been referred to the industrial court.

The court further upheld the application of the Federal Government, noting that it was meritorious and granted.

Justice Hamman, therefore, restrained “ASUU, whether by themselves, members, agents, privies or howsoever called, from taking further steps and doing any act in continuance of the strike action, pending the hearing and determination of the suit filed.”

However, the Judge refused to fine the Federal Government as demanded by ASUU.

Rising cases of depression among students, says NANS

The latest ruling comes shortly after the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) had threatened to not allow any political campaigns to hold across the West African country till students of public universities return to classrooms.

Ojo Olumide, Chairman of NANS National Taskforce,  stated this at a press conference held on Wednesday, September 21, in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has slated September 28 as the official date for party candidates to kick-off electioneering in Nigeria.

Olumide reportedly said: “Our blocking of access to public roads and ports is just a warning.

“If the government fails to conclude all the negotiation 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.”

The student leader also stated: “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.”

He further said: “We say enough is enough; we can no longer bear the brunt from this avoidable crisis in our nation public ivory towers again.”

ASUU to appeal court ruling

Meanwhile, the ASUU leadership have indicated their intention to appeal the court ruling while the Federal Government assures the union of continued negotiations towards resolving the trade dispute amicably.

It is recalled that ASUU has been on strike since February 14 this year.

Hitherto, talks between the Federal Government and striking public University lecturers have not yielded any the much-needed results towards resolving the thorny issue, and enabling the students to resume learning.

Nonetheless, in order to get the lecturers back to class, the Federal Government instituted a suit against ASUU at the National Industrial Court.

Olajide Oshundun, Head of Press and Public Relations at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Abuja, in a recent statement disclosed that the Federal Government took the decision approach the court after dialogue between authorities and ASUU had failed.

Oshundun stated the government wants the National Industrial Court to “order” ASUU members to resume work, while the issues in dispute are being addressed by the court.

But while reacting to the the government’s legal action, ASUU had cautioned the Federal Government against forcing striking members of the union back to class via a court order.

Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, President of ASUU, frowned on the option of compelling the academics to resume classes without resolving outstanding issues.

Osodeke noted one could only wonder what manner of teaching the academic staff will dish out after they have been forced back to the classrooms.

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