On Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime urged the National Industrial Court to order the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to call off its seven-month strike.
Education minister Adamu Adamu is joined as a claimant, with the ASUU president as the sole defendant.
The matter which came up before Justice Polycarp Hamman brought by Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, on behalf of the regime by way of referral, is praying the court to order ASUU to resume academic activities, amongst other prayers.
When the matter slated for mention came up, Ebunolu Adegoruwa (SAN) informed the court that he was representing the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and that he had filed a suit on the same subject matter before the same court.
He also stated that in the suit NICN/ABJ/269/2022, SERAP is the claimant with the federal government as the defendant, applying that the extant suit consolidated and SERAP joined as a defendant instead of multiple suits on the same matter before the same court.
In response, counsel to the claimant, T.A Gazali (SAN), said the application was premature and added that there was no need for SERAP to pray to be joined in the suit orally in a matter that did not have its name on the cause list.
In his response, Femi Falana, ASUU’s lawyer, informed the court that both counsels had told him on Monday that they were filing some papers.
Mr. Falana, in addition, urged the court to step down the matter to enable both lawyers to file their papers and then return at a later date after he must have responded to the claimant’s process.
Mr. Adegoruwa replied that the defendant had not denied the existence of the suit SERAP filed and served on them. On his part, Mr Gazali told the court that his process would be filed Monday, and Mr. Falana said he would need three days to reply to the process.
In his ruling, the judge adjourned the matter until Friday for further mention. He directed that the claimant file and serve his process and the defendant file and serve his response before the adjourned date.
Mr Hamman also ruled that SERAP’s application to be joined in the suit was premature. The suit also seeks that the court gives the matter an accelerated hearing to end the dispute.
In the referral instrument, the claimant also is praying the court to “inquire into the legality or otherwise of the ongoing prolonged strike by ASUU leadership and members which had continued even after apprehension” by the labour minister and “interpret in its entirety the provisions of Section 18, LFN 2004, especially as it applies to the cessation of the strike once a trade dispute is apprehended” by the minister.