The National Industrial Court in Abuja, Nigeria, has ordered the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), to call off the ongoing Strike it embarked upon seven months ago.
The court in a ruling by Justice Polycarp Hamman restrained ASUU from continuing with the industrial action pending the determination of the suit.
The Nigerian Government in a suit, prayed for the order for ASUU to call off its seven months strike.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, on behalf of the Nigerian Government had filed the matter before the court by way of referral to resolve the issue of the ongoing strike by ASUU.
Counsel to Nigerian government Mr James Igwe, SAN 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 noted 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 said, 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.
Counsel to ASUU, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, 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 argued that the minister lacked the power to order the court in the referral to direct ASUU to call off its strike.
He averred that once a referral was before a court, no party could go outside of it.
Falana also said that the letter that accompanied the referral had the name of the Attorney-General 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 discountenance.
Justice Hamman in the ruling ordered that the case filed be returned to the president of the Industrial Court for reassignment to another judge because he is a vacation judge.