• Friday, June 21, 2024
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Why 2 new unions registered by FG are illegal – Falana

Femi Falana, Covid-19 fund and the art of misrepresentation

Femi Falana, lawyer, activist and lead counsel to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in Federal Government/ASUU legal case, has said that the two new academic unions created by the government are illegal.

Chris Ngige, Nigeria’s minister of labour and employment, presented certificates of registration to the new unions – Nigerian Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA), and Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA) on Tuesday in Abuja, thus recognising them officially as trade unions.

During the presentation, Ngige, said the “associations will exist side by side with ASUU in Nigerian universities.

According to Falana, no union can exist side by side with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which is the only academic union recognised by law within the Nigerian university system.

“This is because there is already a union (ASUU) that sufficiently represents the interest of academic staff of universities,” he contended.

Falana quoted Section 5(4) of the Trade Unions Act, which states that “the Registrar shall not register the trade union if it appears to him that any existing trade union is sufficiently representative of the interests of the class of persons whose interest the union is intended to represent.”

The senior lawyer also noted that the trade unions were not created in accordance with the law. According to him, “the Trade Unions Act provides for the procedure for registering a trade union.

Read also: ASUU strikes: an issue of funds or priorities?

“An application for registration of a trade union must be published in the Federal Gazette to allow for objections as to the registration of such from the public. It is only when the registrar is satisfied that there is no objection to the registration that such a union can be registered.

“It is a litany of illegalities. No trade union can be formed without proper registration”, Falana stated.

Section 5(2) of the Trade Unions Act provides that “the Registrar shall cause a notice of the application to be published in the Federal Gazette, stating that objections to the registration of the trade union in question may be submitted to him in writing during the period of three months beginning with the date of the Gazette in which the notice is published.”

Speaking on President Muhammadu Buhari’s allegation of ASUU’s endemic corruption, Falana stated that “the president has not drawn a dichotomy between the management and staff of the universities. ASUU, which embodies the staff, has been in the forefront of looking for funds for universities through various grants and sponsorships. However, the monies disbursed for the development of universities have not been well utilised by the governing councils created by the government. These councils are involved in the management of the universities”.

“And this is why ASUU is advocating for visiting panels to investigate the councils so that persons who divert funds meant for developing the universities can be brought to book” Falana noted.

On what the government should do, Falana stated that “the strike is not in the best interest of the country, it is not in the best interest of the students who have been at home. Instead of instigating crisis, the government must go all out to ensure that this strike is brought to an end.”