The Court of Appeal has fixed Thursday to entertain the suit filed by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) seeking a stay of execution of the ruling of the National Industrial Court which ordered it to call of the strike.
When the matter was called on Wednesday, counsel to ASUU, Mr Femi Falana (SAN) told the court that he had two applications before the court but that he wished to withdraw one and the court granted his request.
Falana told the court that he had served the preferred application on the Federal Government and had proof of service.
Counsel to the Federal Government, Mr James Igwe (SAN), however, told the court that it was the withdrawn application that he had seen and responded to.
He said in the light of the new development, he needed time to respond to the application which he said he intended to oppose.
The presiding judge, Justice Hamma Barka, leading two other justices consequently fixed Thursday to hear ASUU’S application.
Earlier, one of the justices, Justice Biobele Georgewill advised both counsel to meet and evolve a solution to settle the ASUU-FG impasse out of court.
“As senior lawyers, for the sake of the children and our lawyers, have a discussion among yourself, leave the litigants out and agree on a way forward.
“The nation will appreciate you for it,” Justice Georgewill said.
In an interview with newsmen, Igwe expressed optimism that he and Falana would be able to reach an agreement before the sitting tomorrow.
Falana also told newsmen that following his experience at the National Industrial Court and Industrial Arbitration Panel, his clients also want an amicable resolution to the matter.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the National Industrial Court on had on Sept. 21, ordered ASUU to call off the strike.
The court granted the motion on notice filed by the Federal Government, urging the lecturers to return to classrooms.
Ruling on the interlocutory injunction, the trial judge, Justice Polycarp Hamman, restrained ASUU from continuing with the industrial action pending the determination of the suit filed against ASUU by the Federal Government.
Miffed by the ruling, the union headed to the appellant court to appeal the ruling.
NAN) The National Industrial Court,on Tuesday struck out a suit filed by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to compel the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to call off the ongoing strike.
The judge, Justice Polycarp Hamman in the ruling terminated further proceedings in the matter after it was withdrawn by the claimant, Umar Lawal.
From facts, Lawal had filed the suit which was mentioned on Sept.16, for himself and on behalf of NANS against the Minister of Education, ASUU and the Attorney-General of the Federation.
However, when the matter slated for hearing came up on Tuesday, Lawal notified the court that he had filed a motion for discontinuance.
He added that he premised his decision to withdraw the suit on account of the challenge by NANS which contested his position as its president in the affidavit he had deposed to.
After Lawal submitted his application, the court asked if Marshal Abubakar, counsel to ASUU had any objection, he informed the court that he was not opposed to Lawal’s application to withdraw the suit.
The other defendants were however, had no legal representation in court.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) says it is waiting for its lawyers for professional advice, following the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) order restraining it from continuing with strike.
The President of the Union, Mr Emmanuel Osodeke, disclosed this in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Wednesday.
The union had embarked on the industrial action to press home improved academic environment and welfare of members.
Some of the lecturers demands are funding of the Revitalisation of Public Universities, Earned Academic Allowances, University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and promotion arrears.
Others are the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FG Agreement and the inconsistency in Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System.
The strike has entered its seventh month the Federal Government instituted a suit before the court to halt it to enable students resume.
This followed the failure of government and the union to reach workable agreements.
However, students through the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) have embarked on protests by blocking entrance to the International Airport Lagos and have threatened to block other major roads, if the demands were not met by government.
The NICN granted the order pending the determination of the substantive suit before the court, at the instance of the Minister of Labour and Employment, pursuant to his powers, as provided in Section 17 of the Trade Dispute Act, 2004, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
Ruling on the application brought by the Federal Government, the , Justice Polycarp Hamman held that since the issues in dispute have been referred to the court, ordered ASUU (the defendants) not to take part in any further strike, pending the determination of the substantive suit.
According to Hamman, the argument of Femi Falana SAN, the counsel to the defendants that the act of the applicants had been concluded is of no moment and flies in the face of Exhibit 2 dated Aug. 29, 2022. Attached to the affidavit in support of the application where the defendants communicated to the Minister of Labour and Employment, their decision to rollover the strike to a comprehensive indefinite and total strike, beginning from 12.01 am on Aug. 29, 2022. Hamman noted that as the time of reading his ruling on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, the strike action embarked upon by the defendants on Feb. 14, 2022, had not ended.
He maintained that workers cannot go on strike when relevant sections of the TDA have been complied with by the Minister of Labour in conciliating a labour dispute.
He praised the minister for acting in national interest by referring the matter to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
While noting that the balance of convenience is crucial to determining an application for interlocutory injunction, Hamman stated that the balance of convenience tilts in favour of the claimants who own the universities and taken into consideration the interest of the students, whose parents cannot afford private universities in Nigeria or abroad.
He insisted that the strike inflicted irreparable damage to public university education in the country, lamenting that university students have been out of school for eight months in a country where age is considered for employment and enrollment into the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Nigerian Army, Air Force, Navy and and paramilitary organisations.
Justice Hamman dismissed the claim by the defendants counsel that the strike was prompted by serial breach of agreement by the Federal Government, saying since the matter has been referred to the Industrial Court by the Minister of Labour and Employment, the defendants are mandated by the law not to engage in any further strike, pending the determination of the substantive matter.
He said: “Section 18 Subsection 1 of the TDA, 2004, connotes an obligation, which is mandatory and leaves no room for discretion.
“Section 18 (2) criminalises any contravention of 18(1) and imposes the fine of N100 or imprisonment for six months for an individual and N1000 for a corporate body.
“In this circumstance and on the strength of Section 254.6.(1) b of the constitution, Section 18(1) e of the TDA, Section 7(1) e, 16 and 19 b of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria Act 2006, I hold that this application is meritorious and same is hereby granted.
” Justice Hamman further held that the rephrase by Falana that the court should grant accelerated hearing of the application in place of injunctive relief “is of no moment”, going by the rules of the court.
He maintained that the applicants met the requirements for granting of an injunction, contrary fo the averments of Falana SAN.
Reacting inside the courtroom, lead counsel to the Federal Government, James U.
K. Igwe SAN, said: “I thank his Lordship for the ruling, rendered with unparalleled erudition, scholarly analysis and research and which took into cognisance of education as being basic to education in Nigeria.
The Congress of University Academics (CONUA) on Wednesday urged vice-chancellors of public universities to re-open the institutions for academic activities to resume.
CONUA is a splinter group of the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) not in agreement with the union’s on-going strike which began since Feb. 14. It says its charge is in consonance with Wednesday’s ruling of the National Industrial Court restraining ASUU from continuing with the strike.
Its National Coordinator, Dr Niyi Sunmonu, told newsmen that it was imperative that the vice-chancellors reopened the universities since the court is one of the recognised tools of democratic engagement in Nigeria.
“Since CONUA members have not been on strike, re-opening the universities will make it possible to duly continue to work and stem restiveness among students.
“Re-opening the universities will also facilitate the restoration of peace to the nation,’’ Sunmonu said.
Delivering the judgment, Justice Polycarp Hamman, held that the court determined Federal Government’s application in restraining ASUU from continuing with the strike.
NAN) The National Industrial Court is to deliver ruling in an application filled by the Federal Government’s application seeking the order of court to direct the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to call off its ongoing strike.
Justice Polycarp Hamman adjourned the matter after listening to the arguments of the counsel on behalf of the parties.
U.K Igwe, SAN, counsel to FG in his submission had informed the court that the application for the injunction was dated Sept. 12 and filed same date.
He added that the application was brought in pursuant to the rules of the NICN 2017 proceeding.
Igwe further stated that it was predicated on 11 ground, supported by 21 paragraph affidavit deposed to Mr Okechukwu Wampa, a Legal Adviser in the Ministry of Labour and Employment , attached with three exhibits and an undertaking as to damages deposed to by Wampa.
He also urged the court to grant the prayer sought and proceeded to adopt in its entirety and totality the written address, adding that the claimants had met all the requirements to enable the court grant the injunction He cited that claimant’s action was not apprehensive and regarding damages, he said the lost time of seven months of the strike could not be regained.
He concluded by saying that going by the provision of section 18 (1) (e) of the Trade Disputes Act 2004, that a worker should not embark on strike when a matter is already before the court, urged the court to grant the injunction.
Mr Femi Falana SAN, counsel to the defendant stated that he had before the court a nine paragraph counter-affidavit filed on Sept. 16 deposed to by the president of ASUU He further submitted that attached to the affidavit was eight exhibits accompanied by a written address and proceeded to adopt same as their argument in opposition to the interlocutory injunction.
Falana in addition argued that the minister lacked the power to order the court in the referral to direct ASUU to call off its strike.
He averred further that once a referral was before a court, no party could go outside of it.
Falana in his argument also pointed out that the claimants did not follow due process in part 1 of TDA 2004 that stipulated that only an individual has the right to approach the court as a trade union will first need to go to Industrial Abitration Panel ( IAP), before coming to the court.
He said union can only approach the NICN to appeal the decision of IAP Falana also said that the letter that accompanied the referral had the name of the Attorney-Ggeneral as a party in the suit, but that however, the application filed before the court was without the name.
He also said that the referral asking for accelerated hearing was not necessary as there was not urgency in the matter as the strike had lasted for seven months He also submitted that the balance of convenience was not on the side of the claimants and that the conducts of the claimants in the prayer for the court to interpret the 2009 Agreement should be discountenanced.
He finally urged the court to dismiss the application or direct parties to the IAP.
Igwe in response submitted that the minister did not order the court and that the letter attached to the referral was not a legal document as the notice if referral superceded the letter The News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN) reports that earlier the court had ruled in favour of the claimants when Falana had argued that the defendant’s preliminary objection on jurisdiction of the court should be taken before any other application However, Igwe had argued that the court in its decision on Sept.16 slated Monday for hearing.
Igwe in addition stated that the defendant’s objection will not be prejudiced as it can be adopted and taken with the substantive at a later date.
He also argued that the preliminary objection was not ripe for hearing as it was just served on him about 14 minutes before the proceeding was f the day.
The court had upheld Igwe’s argument and directed counsel to proceed with the interlocutory injunction’ application and the counter-affidavit to same.
NAN also reports that 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 nanews.
NAN) The National Industrial Court on Friday fixed Sept.19 to deliver ruling on Federal Government’s prayer asking the court to order the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to call off its seven months strike.
The matter which was first mentioned on Monday was adjourned until Friday for further mention before Justice Polycarp Hamman.
When the matter came up, Mr J.
U.K Igwe SAN 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 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 an 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 million of students have been at home since Feb.14. Mr Femi Falana, SAN, 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 Sept.20 to ensure that the matter is resolved.
Earlier Mr Ebuolu Adegoruwa SAN, 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 is for stay of further proceeding 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.
Adegoruwa in response stated that there was proof of service of 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 Sept. 19 by 11am.
The judge therefore adjourned the matter until Sept.19, for hearing .
The News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN) reports that 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 nanews.
NAN) The Federal government on Monday urged the National Industrial Court to order the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to call off its seven months strike.
Joined as a claimant in the matter is the Minster of Education, with the President of ASUU as sole defendant.
The matter which came up before Justice Polycarp Hamman brought by Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige on behalf of the federal government, by way of referral is praying the court to order ASUU to resume academic activities, amongst other prayers.
When the matter slated for mention came up, Mr Ebunolu Adegoruwa, SAN, informed the court that he was representing Socio- Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and that he had filed a suit on the same subject matter before the same court.
He also stated that in the suit 2692022, SERAP is the claimant with the federal government as the defendant.
He therefore proceeded to apply that the extant suit be consolidated and SERAP be joined in the suit as a defendant, instead of multiply suits on the same matter before the same court.
Counsel to the claimant, Mr T.
A Gazali, SAN, in response said the application was premature and added that there was no need for SERAP to pray to be joined in a suit orally in a matter that did not have its name on the causelist.
Mr Femi Falana, SAN, counsel to ASUU in his response informed the court that both counsel had informed him on Monday that they both were filing some papers.
Falana in addition urged the court to step down the matter to enable both counsel to file their papers and then return at a later date after he would have responded to the claimant’s process Adegoruwa replied that the defendant had not denied the existence of the suit SERAP filed and served on them.
Gazali on his part also informed the court that his process will be filed Monday and Falana said he would need three days to reply to the process.
The judge in his ruling adjourned the matter until Friday, for further mention.
He also directed that the claimant should file, serve his process, the defendant to also file and serve his response before the adjourned date.
Hamman in addition ruled that SERAP’s application for be joined in the suit was premature.
The News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN) reports that the suit filed by the claimant is also seeking the court to give the matter an accelerated hearing in order to bring the dispute to an end.
The claimant also in the instrument of referral is praying the court to: “Inquire into the legality or otherwise of the on-going prolonged strike by ASUU leadership and members which had continued even after apprehension by the Minister of Labour and Employment.
“Interpret in its entirety the provisions of Section 18, LFN 2004 especially as it applies to cessation of strike once a trade dispute is apprehended by the Minister of Labour end Employment and conciliation is on-going”.
Various talks between the parties on different occasions concerning the ongoing strike had not yielded any result, hence the referral of the matter to the court.
The National Industrial Court in Abuja has ordered Access Bank Plc to remove a former employee, Sarah Longe, a debtor from its list of debtors.
The order as directed by Justice Polycarp Hamman also stated that the claimant’s name should be withdrawn as debtor in the Credit Bureau Department within 30 days.
The court further declared the listing and subsequent sending of Longe’s details to the Credit Bureau Department as a debtor, as unlawful and unjustifiable.
Hamman delivering the judgment held that the claimant was not indebted in any way to the bank, either during her employment from 2014 to 2016 nor after the termination of her employment.
The court in addition awarded the sum of N2 million as general damages in favour of the claimant.
From facts, the claimant had submitted that her employment as a Banking Executive Trainee, was abruptly terminated for no reason by the defunct Diamond Bank in 2016, before it was acquired by Access Bank.
She averred that she subsequently received debit alerts stating that she was indebted to the bank in the sum of N203,639 which accrued from unearned rent among others.
She further submitted that she was denied another employment because of the bad credit report authored and written by the defendant which was sent to all the financial institutions in Nigeria.
Longe also said that she lost several opportunities in her career advancement due to the embargo placed on her person and profile by the defendant.
In defence, the defendant averred that since the allegations of the claimant occurred before they acquired Diamond Bank, that the suit had commenced four years after the claimant was disengaged.
The defendant also argued there was no reasonable cause of action against its GMD, whom the claimant joined as a defendant in the suit.
The bank further averred that the alleged bad credit report to the Credit Bureau Department cannot in law bar the claimant from future employment in a financial institution.
The defendant in closing its case urged the court to dismiss the case in its entirety as the claimant was not entitled to any of the claims in the suit.
In reply, the claimant maintained that the defendant was responsible and liable for the trauma and financial difficulties she suffered by virtue of the credit report it authored.
The claimant also said that the instant suit disclosed a reasonable cause of action against the GMD.
She therefore urged the court to grant the reliefs she sought.
The court on its part after evaluating the submissions of both parties, dismissed the defendant’s objection about its jurisdiction and affirmed the jurisdiction of the court.
The court also held that suit failed to disclose any reasonable cause of action against the GMD of the bank.
The court held that the claimant having utilised the allowances paid to her as upfront before the termination of her appointment in May 2016, was not indebted to the bank.
The court further stressed that the bank had failed to show the court whether, by law, practice in the banking sector or even the agreement between the parties allowances paid upfront to employees at the beginning of the year are to be refunded if the employee’s appointment is terminated within the same year.
The court however, stated that the claimant claim for loss of earning and career advancement were unproved and same was refused by the court. ( NAN)