ASUU challenges ruling, files 14 grounds of appeal

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities has filed an appeal challenging the ruling of Justice Polycarp Hamman of the National Industrial Court Abuja which ordered the lecturers to call off their seven-month-old strike and return to the classrooms.

Counsel for ASUU, Femi Falana, SAN, based their appeal on 14 grounds.

The appeal which Falana made available to Saturday PUNCH was also accompanied by a request for a stay of execution on the ruling by Justice Hamman.

The PUNCH reports that NIC had in a judgement that was delivered last Wednesday ordered the striking varsity lecturers to return to the classroom, pending the determination of a suit the Federal Government filed to query the legality of their strike action.

The interim injunction directing ASUU members to resume work followed an application the government filed through its lawyer, Mr. James Igwe.

Justine Hamman held that the order was both in national interest and for the sake of undergraduates in the country that had been at home since February 14.

Among the 14 grounds for appeal filed by the union through its counsel are, “the learned trial judge erred in law and thereby occasioned a miscarriage of justice when he decided to hear and determine the respondents’ motion for interlocutory injunction when he knew or ought to have known that the substantive suit filed by the claimant was not initiated by due process of law.

“The learned trial judge erred in law and thereby occasioned a miscarriage of justice when he granted the Respondents’ application for interlocutory injunction pending the determination of the substantive suit on the basis of the incurably defective Referral filed on September 8, 2022.

“The learned trial judge erred in law and occasioned a miscarriage of justice when he made an order remitting the case file backed the President of the National Industrial Court despite the order made earlier for the accelerated hearing of the substantive suit.

“The learned trial judge erred and occasioned a miscarriage of justice when he held, ‘On the requirement of the conduct of the applicants, I have seen that contrary to the submission of Falana, SAN that the Applicants have delayed in bringing the application because the strike started on the 14th of February, 2022, and that the urgency in the application is self-induced, it is obvious from exhibits ASUU 1 to ASUU 7 annexed to the counter-affidavit that parties have been negotiating in line with the requirements of the Trade Disputes Act till 1st of September, 2022 when the defendant/respondent wrote to the Chairman of the Committee of Pro-chancellors of federal universities.”

 ‘Don’t deregister ASUU’

 In a related development, the Nigeria Labour Congress has warned against reported moves by the Federal Government to withdraw the registration licence of the Academic Staff Union of Universities over non-submission of its audited financial returns for over five years.

While dismissing the claims that ASUU had not submitted its audited financial returns to the Registrar of Trade Unions for over five years as required by the law, the NLC insisted that the union had submitted its financial reports up to 2021.

Reacting to media report that the Federal Government may withdraw ASUU’s registration because of the alleged infractions, the NLC alleged that ASUU submitted its financial reports twice, but were deliberately rejected.

In the letter to the Registrar of Trade Unions and copied the Minister of Labour and Employment, NLC President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, warned against moves to deregister or withdraw ASUU’s registration licence.

The NLC in the letter dated September 2022, said, “We understand that ASUU has responded to your query to submit its Annual Financial Report and Audited Accounts within 72 hours. ASUU responded to the query through their letter dated September 9, 2022.

“In the letter, the union posited that it had submitted the Annual Financial Returns and Audited Accounts for 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. ASUU also averred that the union has now rendered the account for 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 as at September 9, 2022.

“We understand that due to disruptions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, the union was unable to fill these reports immediately the financial documents were prepared and available for filing. We also understand that regardless of the COVID-19 disruptions, the union had paid for statutory required filling fees.”

NANS begs ASUU

Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigerian Students has appealed to the Academic Staff Union of Universities to respect the ruling of the Industrial Court which directed its members to go back to work pending the determination of the suit.

The North-East, Zone E, Zonal Coordinator of NANS, Alhassan Adam, made the appeal while speaking to journalists on Friday at the NUJ Secretariat in Bauchi, the Bauchi State capital.

He, however, called on the Federal Government to immediately pay the lecturers their outstanding seven months’ salaries so that academic activities could go back to normal.

Adam, who was accompanied to the press conference by other zonal and state officials, said: “We are here today Friday, the 23rd September, 2022 to address you in Bauchi State regarding the court judgment between ASUU and Federal Government.

“After a seven month stand-off between ASUU and the Federal Government, just last Wednesday, the Industrial Court made a judgment between the Federal Government and ASUU.

“The Federal Government won the case against ASUU; indeed, the judgment is a win-win to Nigerian students under the leadership of the new President of NANS, Comrade Usman Umar Barambu.

“Based on that, the leadership of Nigerian Students (NANS) deemed it very necessary to call on ASUU to please respect the judgment of the court in good faith, so that our students can return back to classes after seven months of deadbeat staying at home.”



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