Court Strikes Out Suit Against Striking Varsity Lecturers

A file photo combination of ASUU president Emmanuel Osodeke and the National Industrial Court building in Abuja.

 

The National Industrial Court Abuja has struck out a suit instituted by one Umar Lawal, asking the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to call off its seven-month strike and return to classrooms.

Lawal, who claimed to be the President of the National Association of Nigerian Students, had instituted the case on behalf of himself and the association.

Justice Polycarp Hamman, however, struck out the suit on Tuesday after the counsel for Lawal, Debo Ikuesan, withdrew the suit on the grounds that the students’ body is challenging his position as president, denying that he is the leader of NANS as he had deposed to.

Counsel for ASUU, Marshal Abubakar, also informed the court that he is not opposing the application to withdraw the suit.

READ ALSO: Nnamdi Kanu’s Lawyer Demands IPOB Leader’s Release On Health Grounds

In the suit, one Umar Faruk, who claimed to be the president of NANS, sought the court’s order mandating ASUU to call off the industrial action it commenced in February 2022.

He said the strike affects students’ right to education under section 18, Chapter 2 of the 1999 constitution as amended. He added that the prolonged strike has caused damage to Nigerian students as they have lost valuable time and opportunity in their educational and career pursuits.

They are seeking an order of the court to, amongst others, order ASUU to call off its strike.

They are also seeking an order of court restraining ASUU and its members from further engaging or partaking in the industrial action they commenced.

The outgoing President of the students’ body, Sunday Asefon, had approached the court claiming that Umar Lawal does not have the mandate of NANS to commence the action.

He said Lawal had contested and lost the position of national president of NANS.

On account of the objection by NANS, counsel for Faruk sought an order to discontinue the case, a stand which the counsel for ASUU, Abubakar Marshall, did not oppose to.

ASUU Strike: FG Withdraws Order Mandating Reopening Of Varsities

A photo collage of Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu; and an empty classroom

 

The Federal Government has withdrawn the order mandating vice-chancellors of universities to reopen universities.

In a circular issued on Monday, the National Universities Commission (NUC), had mandated vice-chancellors, pro-chancellors, and governing councils to re-open federal universities following months of closure due to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)’s strike.

But on the same day, the NUC issued another circular, tagged NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/136, in which it withdrew the order.

READ ALSOIndustrial Court’s Ruling Ordering ASUU To Call Off Strike (Full Details)

“I have been directed to withdraw the NUC Circular Ref: NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/135, and dated September 23, 2022, on the above

Subject,” the circular, signed by the Director, Finance, and Account of the NUC, Sam Onazi, read.

“Consequently, the said circular stands withdrawn. All pro-chancellors and chairmen of governing councils, as well as vice-chancellors of federal universities, are to please note.

“Further development and information would be communicated to all relevant stakeholders. Please, accept the assurances of the Executive Secretary’s warmest regards.”

The letter was tagged “Withdrawal of circular NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/135 dated September 23, 2022”.

Below is a copy of the circular obtained by Channels Television:  

Before the order, the National Industrial Court (NIC) in Abuja had ruled that ASUU should call off the strike, a move which the union rejected and had since filed an appeal.

The counsel to ASUU, Femi Falana, based the appeal on 14 grounds.

FG To ASUU: Obey Court Ruling First, Negotiations Will Continue

A photo combination of ASUU president and Ngige.

 

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has advised the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), to obey the National Industrial Court (NIC) ruling and call off its ongoing nationwide strike, while negotiations are ongoing.

Ngige stated this while responding to the industrial court ruling which restrained ASUU from continuing with the strike when fielding questions from journalists in New York on Friday.

He said that the strike is detrimental to public university students who cannot afford to attend private tertiary institutions, noting that the Trade Dispute Act mandates workers not to embark on strike once an issue has been referred to the industrial court.

The minister also advised that after obedience, ASUU can then apply for an appeal if they so desire or apply for a stay of execution.

READ ALSOIndustrial Court’s Ruling Ordering ASUU To Call Off Strike (Full Details)

On Friday, ASUU filed an appeal over the ruling.  The counsel to ASUU, Mister Femi Falana, based their appeal on 14 grounds. The motion is seeking two reliefs which are:

A) The leave to file the appeal pursuant to Section 243 of the Constitution that requires the party to seek a leave of court to appeal the judgement or ruling of the National Industrial Court (NIC).

B) Seeking for a stay of execution of the orders of the court, pending the hearing and determination of the appeal.

Strike: ASUU Appeals National Industrial Court’s Ruling On Resumption

A file photo combination of ASUU president Emmanuel Osodeke and the National Industrial Court building in Abuja.

 

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

Counsel to ASUU, Mister Femi Falana, based their appeal on 14 grounds. The motion is seeking two reliefs which are:

A) The leave to file the appeal pursuant to Section 243 of the Constitution that requires the party to seek a leave of court to appeal the judgement or ruling of the National Industrial Court (NIC).

B) Seeking for a stay of execution of the orders of the court, pending the hearing and determination of the appeal.

READ ALSO: Industrial Court’s Ruling Ordering ASUU To Call Off Strike (Full Details)

The application was supported by an affidavit which was deposed to by Samuel Ameh, who is a research assistant in the office of Falana and Falana’s Chambers.

He deposed on the note stated that he had the consent of ASUU to swear on oath. Ameh further stated in the affidavit that he was informed that the said ruling affects the fundamental and other legal rights of ASUU and its members.

It was his further disposition that the court below made the order without jurisdiction as the said referral was incompetent.

It was deposed further that ASUU has a very strong case and appeal which the court ought to decide one way or the other. He, therefore, prayed the court to preserve the subject matter of the dispute so as not to render the appeal nugatory.

Grounds of the appeal:

 

 

ASUU Saga: Reps Summon Ngige, DG Budget Office, AGF, SGF And Others

A file photo of the Speaker of the House of Reps. Femi Gbajabiamila. Photo: Facebook/Gbajabiamila.

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila has invited the Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige and several others to appear before the lawmakers on Thursday next week. 

Gbajabiamila, who said this on Thursday at the resumed fact-finding meeting on the strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Universities (ASUU), also invited the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan; the Accountant General of the Federation; Director General, Salaries, Income, and Wages Commission; the Director General Budget Office among others.

As part of the push to resolve the lingering ASUU strike, Gbajabiamila, alongside his deputy, Ahmed Idris Wase and other leaders of the House on Thursday met with the Head of Service of the Federation (HoS),  the chairman of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Mr. Ekpo Nta, among other government officials.

Thursday’s meeting was a sequel to an earlier one the Speaker held with ASUU officials on Tuesday where issues related to the strike were discussed.

The outcome of Tuesday’s meeting led the House leadership to invite the Head of Service, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Salaries, Incomes, and Wages Commission, and the Accountant General of the Federation, among others.

READ ALSO: ASUU To Appeal Court Order Directing Lecturers To Call Off Strike

“At Thursday’s meeting, NITDA told the House leadership that the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS), the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS), and the University Peculiar Personnel and Payroll System (U3PS) failed its integrity tests regarding the university payroll, which the agency conducted between March and JUNE this year,” the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker, Lanre Lasisi, said in a statement.

“According to a NITDA official at the meeting, the government directed the agency to test UTAS in October 2020, adding that the platform failed the two integrity tests conducted on it.

“He said following the first test, ASUU was asked to go back and review, which it did. Yet, the platform did not meet NITDA’s requirements the second time.

“For the third time, NITDA was then asked to conduct tests on UTAS, IPPIS, and U3PS, which the official said all three platforms failed its requirements regarding the payroll system of universities.”

Lasisi added that “Not satisfied with the explanation, Speaker Gbajabiamila asked if NITDA advised the government to take action on the lapses found on IPPIS, which has been in operation by the government since 2011. But the NITDA official said they were not in a position to do that.

“Gbajabiamila also asked if NITDA queried the IPPIS platform, to which the official responded in the negative.

Deputy Speaker Wase also expressed reservations at NITDA’s action, saying it ought to have advised the government on the appropriate action to take in view of its discovery on IPPIS.

“But the Head of Service, in her explanation, said the ministry of communications and digital economy wrote her office following NITDA’s observations about IPPIS on the need to take a holistic look at the platform and that a committee was empaneled to carry out the assignment.

“She also noted that IPPIS is not just a payment platform but that it also has a human resource component, which all government agencies have been directed to activate, noting that all those directly under her purview have since complied.

“Also, the chairman of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Mr Nta, told the House leadership that in view of the general agitation in the tertiary education sector, the agency advised the government to look at the possibility of increasing the salaries of the staff in the entire sector, comprising universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education.

“He said, however, that at the end of the day, the government decided to increase the salaries of lecturers in the universities by a certain percentage, while professors were considered for higher percentage.

“He said he was not aware of any agreement between the Federal Government and ASUU for salary increment.

“Also speaking at the meeting, the acting Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Sylva Okolieaboh, said under no circumstance should employees dictate to their employers how they should be paid, faulting ASUU’s insistence on UTAS.

“After hours of deliberations, the Speaker suggested that a further follow-up meeting with ASUU officials be held on Thursday next week, which the stakeholders subscribed to. The meeting was, therefore, adjourned to Thursday next week.”

 ASUU Cautions FG Against Forcing Lecturers Back To School Via Court Order

ASUU, JAMB Act, amendment
ASUU’s logo.

 

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has cautioned the Federal Government against forcing striking members of the union back to class via court order. 

The Federal Government dragged ASUU to court over the lingering strike with the ruling date set.

But speaking on Tuesday with the Federal Government, the leadership of the House of Representatives, and the lecturers, the president of the union Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, wondered what manner of teaching members will dish out if forced back to the classroom by a court order.

READ ALSO: Court Fixes Wednesday To Rule On FG’s Suit Against ASUU

“We are meeting with the ministry of education and the committee of pro chancellors and vice-chancellors and others. As we are doing this, the same ministry of labour ran to court,” he said during the meeting convened by the Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila.

“If the courts force the lecturers to go work tomorrow, which type of teaching will they do? If the courts force the Nigerian academics to go and teach against their will, just like a court forcing a doctor to treat a patient against his will, how many of us will go to that doctor?”

The ASUU chief lamented that “This is the 7th month this strike is on. We have never been called to a formal meeting by the minister of education. No formal meeting. No one. We were only called to a meeting twice by the minister of labour, 27 of February and March 1. Between then and now, we have not been called to a formal meeting. I used the word “formal”.

“I challenge the Minister of education to show that he had called for any formal meeting. I can assure you that in the next 10 years, our public universities will be like public primary and secondary schools.”

Reps To Meet ASUU, Stakeholders Over Seven-Month Strike

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, presides over plenary at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja on November 24, 2020.

 

The House of Representatives is scheduled to meet with the Academic Staff Union of the University and other stakeholders in a bid to end the lingering strike embarked upon by the varsity lecturers.

Mr Yahaya Danzaria, the Clerk of the House of Representatives disclosed this in a statement on Monday in Abuja.

The meeting, Danzaria said, would take place on Tuesday at the National Assembly, the House of Representatives wing.

READ ALSO: ASUU Strike: Gridlock As Protesting Students Block Lagos Airport Road

“The House of Representatives is deeply concerned about the renewed strike which seems to have defied all efforts made to find a solution or reach an agreement between the Federal Government and the striking University lecturers,” the statement read.

“The House is more worried about the negative consequences of the strike on the future and quality of education of our teeming youths who have been kept at home for the past six months despite the intervention of the House and several well-meaning Nigerians overtime to see that the matter was resolved.”

According to him, the planned meeting with ASUU and other critical stakeholders is geared toward finding a lasting solution to the lingering strike embarked upon by ASUU.

Noting that the House was more worried about the negative consequences of the strike on the future and quality of education of the teeming youths, the clerk lamented that the youth had been kept at home for the past seven months despite the intervention of the House and several well-meaning Nigerians over time to see that the matter was resolved.

ASUU had on February 14 declared a nationwide strike pressing home their demands for revitalisation funds for universities, renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement, release of earned allowances for university lecturers, and deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution.

The situation has forced many Nigerian students to be out of school for over seven months, prompting them to block the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, and Lagos airport to register their displeasure.

ASUU Strike: Wike Blames Uncommitted Leaders, Sues For Peace

A file photo of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.

 

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike says the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is the consequence of electing leaders that are not committed to solving problems.

He says while it is acknowledged that the problem leading to the strike is an accumulated one, proper negotiations should have been able to resolve the dispute.

READ ALSO: [FG Vs ASUU] Court Adjourns Case Till September 16

Governor Wike, a former Minister of State for Education, however, urged ASUU to reconsider some demands as no administration can pay out the huge sum being demanded by the union at a go, with the present economic realities.

Wike was speaking during the signing of three bills into law at the Government House in Port Harcourt on Thursday.

FG Vs ASUU: Court Adjourns Case To September 19

File photo of the National Industrial Court.

 

The National Industrial Court has adjourned the suit filed by the Federal Government challenging the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to Monday, September 19 for a hearing of the interlocutory application of the Federal Government.

At the resumed sitting on Friday, counsel to the Federal Government, James Igwe, asked the court to give the suit an accelerated hearing due to the urgency of the matter to enable the students to return to school.


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ASUU Strike: Commuters Stranded On Ibadan-Ife Expressway As Students Protest

FG Drags ASUU To Court, Says Talks Have Failed

ASUU Strike: Wike Blames Uncommitted Leaders, Sues For Peace


A file photo of Mr Femi Falana.

 

Igwe told the court that since the matter was already in court, it would be proper for the strike to be called off pending the determination of the suit.

Counsel to ASUU, Femi Falana, argued that the matter was adjourned to Friday for further mention and not for hearing. He said he has been served with the Federal Government’s Interlocutory injunction.

Falana added that ASUU is currently meeting with stakeholders to ensure that this lingering crisis is resolved. He appealed to the Federal Government to cooperate with them to resolve the issue.

Justice Polycarp Hamman, subsequently adjourned the suit to Monday 19, 2022

ASUU Strike: Commuters Stranded On Ibadan-Ife Expressway As Students Protest

Thousands of commuters were stranded along the Ibadan-Ife Expressway on Thursday after the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) mounted a roadblock at Gbongan Bypass.

The students are protesting the seven-month-long strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

Speaking to Channelstv.com, NANS spokesperson, Giwa Yisa Temitope, said Nigerian students are tired of staying at home. He added that the Federal Government has failed young people.

“We have been at home for seven months and still counting. The ASUU leadership and the Federal Government have met 15 times and they ended in deadlocks,” he said. “At this moment, we are tired of the nonsense.”

Giwa accused the Federal Government of failing in its duties to Nigeria.

“The  Federal Government has failed us and we are tired of all this rubbish,” the NANS leader added.

The students are calling on the government and ASUU to resolve the industrial dispute.

 

READ ALSO: [FG Vs ASUU] Court Adjourns Case Till September 16

 

On Wednesday, the students also blocked the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to protest against the lingering dispute between ASUU and the Federal Government. They blocked the inbound and outbound sections of the expressway.

While addressing reporters during the protest, members of the association said the protest has become imperative in order to press home their demand for immediate resolution of the face-off between ASUU and the Federal Government.

The protest brought vehicular movement on the ever-busy expressway to a halt, leaving passengers stranded. Some were forced to take barely motorable alternative routes to avoid the protesters, while others drove against the traffic in order to beat the traffic jam the protest caused.

ASUU Strike Takes Toll On Nigerian Students

Virtually all schools were closed across Nigeria between March and July 2020. Most schools only fully reopened in January 2021, with social distancing measures in place. Credit: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television
Virtually all schools were closed across Nigeria between March and July 2020. Most schools only fully reopened in January 2021, with social distancing measures in place. Credit: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television

 

For almost seven months, students in federal government-owned universities in Nigeria have been stuck at home, forced out of class by a protracted strike by staff.

The protest over pay, welfare, and crumbling facilities by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has shut down universities since February 14 in the latest industrial action by the country’s public sector workers.

After several extensions to give the government time to meet their demands, the union’s leadership last week declared an indefinite strike in public universities across Africa’s most populous nation.

The latest strike is the second longest by ASUU, known for its work stoppages. In 2020, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Nigerian university teachers went on strike for nine months — the longest in the nation’s history.

Parents and students are now getting desperate with no sign of the strike ending after more than 200 days.

“I have now wasted two academic sessions because of the incessant strikes by ASUU,” lamented 20-year-old Emmanuel Odunayo, a first-year physics student at Obafemi Awolowo University in southwest Nigeria.

“I lost one academic session in 2020 as a result of the nine months ASUU strike and now am on the verge of losing another,” he said.

He appealed to the striking lecturers to return to work “because their action is putting our future in jeopardy”.

READ ALSO: [FG Vs ASUU] Court Adjourns Case Till September 16

Nigeria, with 36 states and the federal capital territory Abuja, has scores of universities owned by local state governments or the private sector not affected by the shutdown as membership of ASUU is voluntary.

The ASSU’s national executive committee said the strike aimed to “save public universities from collapsing” and that the strike would be extended because of the government’s failure to meet its demands.

“NEC resolved to transmute the roll-over strike to a comprehensive, total, and indefinite strike action,” ASUU president Emmanuel Osodeke said in a statement.

Osodeke urged students and parents to bear with the teachers in their fight for better conditions.

The demands, like in previous strikes, are the same — higher pay, improved welfare, increased funding, and upgraded facilities.

Temporary work, crimes 

Local newspapers have been filled with reports of students forced to take desperate measures as a result of the strike, including becoming involved in cybercrime, prostitution, and robberies.

Nigeria’s youth are already facing nearly 20 percent inflation, a weakening naira currency, and double-digit unemployment figures.

Students complain of having to spend more years in class before graduating and getting jobs, owing to frequent strikes by their teachers.

In one tragic case, Racheal Opadele, a female university student in southwest Nigeria, was kidnapped along with her hotelier boss while doing a temporary job.

They, along with a motorcycle rider, were killed by their abductors after collecting ransom money.

Her grieving mother Grace Opadele said her 21-year-old daughter would have been in school if not for the ASUU strike.

“I want the government to find a permanent solution to the problem of ASUU. I am not seeking justice; I am not interested in any case; the government should just address insecurity and the problem in the education sector,” she said.

Lagos parent Wale Oni called for prompt resolution of the dispute for fears a lack of study and opportunities may push desperate students into crime.

“An idle hand is the devil’s workshop,” he said.

The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), the umbrella body for students, has called on ASUU to end the protest.

“We met with the executive secretary of the NUC (National University Commission) and the minister of labour who told us that 85 percent of their demands have been met,” NANS leader Asefon Sunday said.

He said it was regrettable the ASUU insisted on being paid for the period of the strike, a request already rejected by the government.

The government has invited chancellors and chairmen of governing councils of federal universities to a meeting in Abuja next Tuesday in a bid to resolve the dispute.

In a meeting with governors of the ruling APC party on Tuesday, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo called for a truce.

“We all need to work together on these critical issues,” he said. “We need to think through things, and we need to do it fast.”

AFP

My Govt Resolved Four-Month ASUU Strike In Overnight, Says Jonathan

ASUU, JAMB Act, amendment
ASUU’s logo.

 

Former President Goodluck Jonathan has narrated how his government resolved a lingering strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in one night. 

The varsity teachers have been on strike since February and Jonathan, who spoke on Wednesday in Abuja during a conference to mark the 70th birthday of the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Hassan Kukah, recalled how his administration tried to tackle one such industrial action.

“The society we are managing is quite complex. Yes, I was the president and I tried my best. Now, we are talking about ASUU strike. During my time too, ASUU had four months of strike. Different committees were meeting but nothing was working. I said ‘How can our children stay out of school for four good months?” Jonathan said at the event.

“So, I had to call a meeting of all the leadership of ASUU. I presided over the meeting with my vice president. The Attorney General was there. I said that that night we must solve the problem. The Attorney General was there; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation was there; the ministers of education were there; the labour ministers were there; the finance ministers and everybody that had to do with it [strike].

“And I thought that my being there would help us to do things quickly. But we spent the whole night. We finished like 5:30 am and the strike was called off. So, there were issues,” Jonathan said.

READ ALSO: Jonathan Asks Nigerians To Protect Democracy From Derailment

The former Bayelsa governor, who extolled Bishop Kukah, said clergymen must speak against bad leadership in society.

Jonathan also spoke about the country’s democracy, asking Nigerians to protect it from derailing into fascism. According to him, democracy remains the best bet to manage the nation’s diversity.

The event had in attendance top dignitaries including the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu; governors; former ministers among others.