Fed Govt’s suit against ASUU adjourned till Friday

A National Industrial Court in Abuja has rescheduled hearing in a suit filed by the Federal Government against the ongoing strike by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for September 16.

In ruling yesterday, Justice Polycarp Hamman adjourned till Friday to allow the parties file the necessary papers.

The judge declined the application for joinder filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and rejected its lawyer’s request for the consolidation of the case with an earlier one filed by the group.

At the mention of the case, SERAP’s lawyer Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN) said his client sought to be made a party in the suit with the possibility of having it consolidated with the one the group earlier filed.

Adegboruwa said SERAP filed a similar suit, seeking, among others, to compel the Federal Government to honour its 2009 agreement with the striking lecturers.

He added: “We filed a similar suit on September 8, asking the court to compel the Federal Government to honour an agreement it willingly entered into with ASUU.”

Adegboruwa said his client’s request to be made a party to the suit was meant to forestall duplicity of outcomes in the industrial dispute.

But lawyer to the Federal Government, Tijani Gazali (SAN), objected to SERAP’s request for the consolidation of both cases.

Gazali contended that SERAP’s application was premature because the case was fixed for mention yesterday.

In his submission, lawyer to ASUU, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) said he was aware of efforts by the lawyers to file necessary documents yesterday.

Ruling, Justice Hamman agreed with the Federal Government lawyer’s argument that the suit was not ripe for consolidation.

The judge said he was only presiding as a vacation judge and that the case would be re-assigned after the court’s vacation.

Justice Hamman then ordered the parties in the suit to file and exchange all necessary processes and adjourned till September 16.

Yesterday’s proceedings were witnessed by ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, and other union officials.

Outside the courtroom, Falana averred that the Federal Government often adopted “dilatory tactics that have a way of prolonging strikes”.

He added: “They (government) are yet to put their house in order. The government has not been able to make a case for the intervention of the court, hence the basis of adjournment.

“This is not the first time the government has adopted this rather dilatory tactics that have a way of prolonging strike.

“We were here last year when we had the resident doctors’ strike. It was the same approach.

“They (government) said the resident doctors won’t be paid. But at the end of the day, the government had to pay them. And that is what happens all the time.”

Also, Adegboruwa said the Federal Government had abdicated its responsibility of funding public universities, a development that informed the suit filed by his client.


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