The Court of Appeal will, on Friday (today), deliver a ruling on an application by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, seeking permission to appeal against the order of the National Industrial Court.
The NICN had, on September 21, granted interlocutory order in favour of the Federal Government, ordering the striking university lecturers to resume work pending the resolution of their dispute with the government.
But dissatisfied with the court order, ASUU, through its counsel, Femi Falana (SAN), filed an application at the Court of Appeal (Abuja Division) seeking the leave of court to file an appeal against the industrial court order.
Falana claimed that it was the right of ASUU to file an appeal against the interlocutory injunction because it is 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 the validity of the appeal.
Falana asked a three-man panel of the court headed by Justice Hamma Barka to reject government 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, in his opposition to ASUU’s application, the Federal Government prayed the court to dismiss the entire application on grounds of incompetence and jurisdiction.
The lawyer to the Federal Government, James Igwe (SAN), drew the attention of the court to the fact that the Industrial Court order made on September 21, had not been obeyed by the lecturers.
He also opposed the decision of ASUU to jettison the stay of execution of the Industrial Court order, adding that both parties had already joined issues.
“ASUU is in contempt of court, it is illegal for ASUU to remain on strike in the face of the industrial court order. Section 18(1) of the Trade Dispute Act, does not allow a party in contempt to come before the Court of Appeal with the type of ASUU’s application”, he said.
Igwe, therefore, prayed the Court of Appeal to dismiss the request of ASUU for leave to appeal against the Industrial Court order that has not been obeyed.
Justice Barka Hamma, after taking arguments from the two parties, announced that the ruling of the court would be delivered on October 7.
Out-of-court settlement fails
Meanwhile, lawyers for the Federal Government and ASUU on Thursday told the Court of Appeal that both parties could not settle for an out-of-court settlement as advised by the court.
Falana suggested that their application challenging the ruling of the Industrial Court, be heard by the three-man panel of the Appeal court.
Both parties agreed that the court should hear the application, as there was no amicable resolution reached as advised by the court.
ASUU is set to sue the Federal Government over the registration of the Congress of Nigerian Universities Academics and the National Association of Medical and Dental Academics.
Falana disclosed this in an interview with Channels TV on Thursday.
“ASUU is going to court. It is going to be the NIC,” he said.
The National Association of University Students, South West has said the newly-registered CONUA and NAMDA will pose a greater threat to universities’ progress.
The union, in a statement by its Vice-President, Adesoji Oladimeji, on Thursday, said, “The attempt of the Federal Government through the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, to defy ASUU by presenting certificates of registration to other rival academic unions is a mere distraction and the divide and conquer method will pose a great threat to the university community.”
Ngige has however said he has no apologies that three unions now exist for academics.
The minister said this in a statement on Thursday by his media office while reacting to a former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Attahiru Jega, who accused Ngige of turning the fight between ASUU and the Federal Government into a personal matter.
It read, “We have no apologies that today, three unions exist for academics; CONUA, NAMDA and ASUU in the Nigerian universities.