President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to direct the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige to immediately reverse the deduction in the salaries of university lecturers.
The Federal Government paid half-salaries to members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for the month of October 2022. Some professors reportedly received salaries ranging from N71,000 to N121,000 for October.
Justifying the decision, Ngige said ASUU members were paid their October salary pro-rata. Pro-rata was done because the lecturers cannot be paid for work not done.
But in a statement on Sunday, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) knocked the Federal Government for not paying the varsity teachers in full.
SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, also asked President Buhari to direct “the acting Accountant General of the Federation, Sylva Okolieaboh to immediately reverse the apparently illegal deductions from the salaries of members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for October 2022.”
The rights group wants the Federal Government “to pay ASUU members full salaries for the duration of their strike action.”
“Paying half salaries to ASUU members solely for exercising their human rights is patently unlawful and incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and international standards,” the statement read.
“The alleged deductions from the salaries of ASUU members also amount to punishing them for exercising their right to strike.”
“The deductions are illegal and disproportionate. The deductions may also be construed as a deliberate attempt to take away the right to strike, and to make ASUU a lame duck.”
“The right to strike implies the right of workers not to be punished for striking. ASUU members do not, therefore, forfeit their salaries because they exercise their right to strike.”
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of this letter’s receipt and/or publication. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our requests in the public interest.”
“Illegal deductions from the salaries of ASUU members may also violate the right to work, and to respect of the dignity inherent in a human being.”
On February 14, ASUU embarked on strike and suspended it on October 14. While the strike lasted, the government insisted that lecturers would not be paid for the period of the strike.