Call Off Strike Within 7Days, Appeal Court Orders ASUU
The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, has ordered the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to immediately call of the on-going industrial action. The court said it was the only condition that the union’s request to appeal the ruling of the National Industrial Court which ordered it to call off the strike would be given effect.
The court, however, granted the application on the condition that the union obeys the ruling of the lower court and calls off the strike immediately pending the determination of the substantive suit. It gave ASUU seven days within which to file the appeal after it must have obeyed the ruling of the industrial court.
The National Industrial Court had on September 21 granted an interlocutory order in favour of the federal government, ordering the university lecturers to resume work pending the resolution of their dispute with the government. Not satisfied with the lower court’s order, ASUU through its counsel, Mr Femi Falana (SAN) filed an application at the Court of Appeal seeking the leave of court to file an appeal against the industrial court order. Falana said it was the right of his client to file an appeal against the interlocutory injunction because it was against them.
He cited several authorities to the effect that ASUU must first seek and obtain leave of the Court of Appeal before filing a notice of appeal to ensure validity. He informed a three- man panel of the court headed by Justice Hamma Barka to reject government’s opposition against the application, adding that it would amount to a dangerous decision for his client to be denied the right of appeal. Earlier, Falana had requested that the stay of execution of the ruling of the industrial court contained in the application be discontinued.
However, the federal government prayed the court to dismiss the entire application on grounds of incompetence and jurisdiction. Counsel to the federal government, Mr James Igwe (SAN) drew the attention of the court to the fact that the industrial court order made since September 21 had not been obeyed by the lecturers till date. He also opposed the decision of ASUU to jettison stay of execution of the industrial court order, adding that both parties had already joined issues. He argued that ASUU, having been in contempt of court, cannot come before the Court of Appeal with unclean hands to ask for a favour or attention of the court. He cited Order 6 Rule 4 of the Court of Appeal, adding that ASUU’s application was in breach of the order, thereby making it incompetent and should not be granted.
Similarly, Igwe argued that proper parties were not before the court because the parties were wrongly and unlawfully listed on the application paper against the parties at the industrial court