The Academic Staff Union of Universities on Wednesday said it will appeal the ruling of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, which ordered the union to call off its ongoing nationwide strike and resume work.
The PUNCH reports that ASUU has been on strike since February 14 to press home demands for improved funding for universities and a review of salaries for lecturers, among other issues.
Several meetings between ASUU and the Federal Government have ended in a deadlock.
Consequently, the Federal Government went to court to challenge the strike.
The government through its counsel, James Igwe prayed the court for an interlocutory injunction restraining ASUU from taking further steps as regards the strike, pending the determination of the substantive suit.
Justice Polycarp Hamman held that the application was meritorious and deserved to be granted by the court.
“The balance of convenience tilts in favour of the applicant.
“I hold that this application is meritorious and this application is granted,” Justice Hamman ruled.
Order for VCs
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said the government would order vice-chancellors to re-open universities based on the court order.
“The government would order the vice-chancellors to reopen the universities in compliance with the order of the court,” he said in a statement.
The minister added that the court ruling does not preclude the government from going on with further negotiation and consultations.
No going back
Speaking to The PUNCH on Wednesday, National President, ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, said the union will appeal the ruling, adding that the Federal government had denied Nigerian children their rights.
Osodeke said, “Our lawyer is filing an appeal and stay of execution of the ruling. Our members should remain calm and strong. A people united can never be defeated.
“If the FG believes that this is the best way to solve the problem, good for them. They have denied Nigerian children their rights. Nigeria has a country is going to be punished for what the FG has just done,” he said.
“You can be sure that thousands of my colleagues will leave this country. The last time we had this kind of treatment was during the military era.”
The Chairman of ASUU, University of Lagos chapter, Dr Dele Ashiru, described the ruling as “unfair and rather shameful.”
Reacting to the ruling, in a WhatsApp message sent to The PUNCH, Ashiru said, “It is unfair and rather shameful that the industrial court has ruled in this manner.
“This is an unfair and unjust order. However, it is not surprising. As we have always argued, it is a lie to say the judiciary is the last hope of the common man. In the real sense and as this court ruling shows, the judiciary is simply an arm of the apparatus of the capitalist state, just as the police and army.”
NANS faults ruling
The National Association of Nigerian Students has kicked against the ruling.
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A statement signed by the National PRO, NANS, Temitope Giwa, said the ruling mandating the lecturers to call off their strike betrayed equity, adding that the court was supposed to ask the Federal Government to meet the demands of lecturers.
NANS, in the statement, said, “Our attention has been drawn to the news of a court judgment mandating the Academic Staff Union of Universities to call off its seven-month strike. As an association, we feel disturbed to read the judgment news because we believe it betrays equity.
“Ordinarily, the Federal Government is not meant to have dragged ASUU to court. But, the fact that they had to drag ASUU to court is a signal that this government cannot handle the crisis. And, we want to state categorically that the court cannot force members of ASUU back to lecture theatres.”
NANS has also declared that it would disrupt political campaigns if the Federal Government fails to end the strike within two weeks.
The students’ body gave the ultimatum at a press conference addressed by the Chairman of NANS National Taskforce on EndASUUStrikeNow, Ojo Raymond, on Wednesday in Abeokuta.
“Our blocking of access to public roads and ports is just a warning. If the government fails to conclude all the negotiations and agreements 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 Nigerian students who have been at home for the past seven months. We will not allow any political campaign to hold across the country until we are back in class,” he said.
Also, the National Parent-Teacher Association of Nigeria has told ASUU to obey the court order and resume school as ruled by the court on Wednesday.
National President, NAPTAN, Haruna Danjuma, in an interview with The PUNCH said, ‘‘We were looking at an amicable settlement between ASUU and FG to enable our students to be called back but with today’s ruling, ASUU should understand the situation and obey the rules of the court while the government and ASUU should continue negotiating.
“They should go back to class and the government should meet their agreement, the MoU that was signed in 2009. But we fear that are they ready to teach our children. Now that the court has given a rule, we pray that ASUU will understand this and answer the call.’’
APC lauds order
The National Vice Chairman, North-West of the All Progressives Congress, Salihu Lukman, on Wednesday said the court judgment vindicated the party.
Lukman, in a statement, said, “The NIC judgment today is a vindication of the position I expressed last year when NLC National leadership organised a so-called one-week warning strike against Kaduna State government and resident doctors at the same time.
“Sadly, here we are, the same judgment that would have been delivered before the strike commenced on February 14 is only obtained about seven months into the strike. However, it’s better late than never.”
EKSU orders resumption
Meanwhile, Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti has directed that full academic activities should resume on campus with effect from Thursday (today).
The school, according to a statement by the Head, EKSU Directorate of Information, Bode Olofinmuagun, titled, “Resumption of academic activities in EKSU”, appealed to the academic and non-teaching staff members “to give their maximum support so that both the 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 academic sessions would be completed without further delay.”
Third Mainland Bridge
Meanwhile, men of the Lagos State Police Command were on Wednesday stationed on the Third Mainland Bridge following a reported plan by NANS members to stage a protest on the bridge.
Police vans were seen positioned at strategic locations at the Adeniji Adele end of the bridge while AK-47-wielding policemen stood by the side of the roads in the area.
The officers were led by the Divisional Police Officer, Central Police Station, Adeniji Adele, CSP Lanre Edegbai.
The Police Public Relations Officer for the Lagos State Police Command, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, in a statement, said the exercise was to ensure that nothing hindered the freedom of movement of Lagosians.