The National Industrial Court (NIS) has fixed September 19 to deliver a ruling on the Federal Government’s prayer asking the court to order the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to suspend its ongoing strike. The union began on February 14.
The matter which was first mentioned on Monday was adjourned until Friday for further mention before Justice Polycarp Hamman.
When the matter came up, J.U.K Igwe informed the court that going by its directive on Monday that the claimant should file its process latest by Tuesday, that they had filed two processes. He added that the first one was a motion on notice dated and filed Monday for an interlocutory injunction.
Igwe further stated that the claimant also filed on the same date an affidavit of facts in support of the referral sent by the minister of labour and employment.
He also averred that some questions were raised with a full complement of a written address. He also submitted that the defendant had been served with proof of service before the court.
The counsel said that however, as at the time the court was sitting, he had not received a response from ASUU.
Igwe proceeded to urge the court to take the applications as it was ripe to be taken, stating that the matter is of national interest and urgent as millions of students have been at home since February 14.
Femi Falana, counsel to ASUU, in response, acknowledged receiving process from the claimant and stated that they were already filing their reply in the court’s registry.
Falana added that the minister of labour and employment lacked the power to ask the court in his referral to order the defendant to go back to work.
He also informed the court that ASUU will be meeting stakeholders in the House of Representative on September 20 to ensure that the matter is resolved.
Earlier, Ebuolu Adegoruwa, counsel to Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) had raised the issue of joinder and consolidation of the suit, citing section 36 of the 1999 constitution to fair hearing
He submitted that the court should invoke the cited section in SERAP’s favour to be joined in the suit as a defendant and urged the court to take his application to that effect before entertaining any other application in the suit
Adegoruwa said relief 3 of their application was for stay of further proceedings for the court to determine whether or not they will be a party in the suit. He added that the process had been served on the claimant on Thursday.
He proceeded to seek to withdraw an earlier filed process dated Monday and sought to replace it with the one served on Thursday.
Igwe in response objected to Adegoruwa’s application, stating that he was in receipt of the application he filed on Monday that was served on them on Thursday by 5pm.
He also argued that it was the same application Adegoruwa was applying to withdraw.
He added that he had not received any process dated Thursday as claimed by Adegoruwa. Responding, Adegoruwa stated that there was proof of service of the said application on the attorney-general of the federation on Thursday.
Falana said he was not objecting to Adegoruwa’s application seeking to be joined as a party in the suit and for the suit to be consolidated with the other one filed by SERAP as a claimant.
The court after listening to the submissions of counsel ruled that the application was not ripe to be taken as it was served at the Attorney- general’s office on Thursday.
The court in addition stated that the application for interlocutory injunction will be taken first on September 19, by 11am.
The judge therefore adjourned the matter until September 19, for hearing.
The minister of labour and employment on behalf of the Federal Government had filed the matter before the court by way of referral to resolve the issue of the ongoing strike by ASUU.