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Court declines govt’s request to compel ASUU back to work

From Olalekan Awojodu, Abuja

The National Industrial Court (NICN), sitting in Abuja on Friday refused the prayers of the Federal government to direct striking Academic Staff Union of University, ASUU, to resume classes pending the determination of a Federal government suit challenging the strike.

At the resumed hearing, Counsel to the Federal government, James Ikwe SAN, requested the court to direct ASUU to resume work pending the determination of the suit. However, the defendant’s counsel Femi Falana, SAN opposed the request, stating that it would amount to determining the substantive suit.

Justice Justice P. l. Hammam who agreed with Femi Falana said it was the issue for determination and therefore could not be resolved before hearing .

Meanwhile the application brought by SERAP seeking to be joined as an interested party was not heard as the counsel filed another application which was only served yesterday on the party.

SERAP’s lawyer prayed the court to withdraw the earlier application and substitute the same with the current one. The court subsequently struck out the earlier application.

The lawyer also argued that for the sake of justice his application should be heard before entertaining other matters related to the suit.

On his part counsel for the defendant, Falana agreed that for interest of justice and clarity, it would be proper to hear the application brought by SERAP partaining to the same matter before the determination of other issues.

He, however, added that the defendant (ASUU) is making moves to meet with stakeholders to ensure that the matter is resolved and asked for adjournment to Friday for completion of the process of filing that has commenced.

In response, counsel to the Federal government James Igwe, SAN asked the court to give the substantive suit brought before the court accelerated hearing because of the urgency of the matter to enable the students resume in schools.

He also contended that SERAP’s application is not ripe for hearing because it has not been served to him.

The court in its ruling said that SERAP’s application is not yet ripe for hearing since it was only served yesterday to party through the Ministry of Justice.

The judge consequently adjourned the suit to Monday, September, 19 for hearing.

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