The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has said it will drag Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari to court for recognising the Congress of Nigerian Universities Academics (CONUA) and the National Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA) as academic unions.
Femi Falana, the union’s counsel to ASUU disclosed this on Thursday, October 6, 2022.
“ASUU is going to court. It is going to be the National Industrial Court (NIC),” he said.
The President of ASUU, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, also confirmed the development in a chat with our correspondent on Thursday morning.
“He (Falana) is our lawyer. So, that is correct,” Osodeke said when asked to confirm the development.
Recall that Federal Government on Tuesday, October 4, 2022, registered two factional academic unions – the CONUA and NAMDA.
The registration of the two factional unions took place as talks between ASUU and the government broke down amid the over seven-month strike by lecturers of public universities.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, on Tuesday, explained that the two bodies will exist alongside ASUU, adding that the two associations will enjoy the rights and privileges accorded to other academic unions in the tertiary education system.
However, Falani, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said the registration of CONUA and NAMDA is illegal. He said according to the Trade Unions Act, only one union is allowed to operate in every sector.
“You can’t have two trade unions in the same sector. Only a union is allowed to be registered for all academics in Nigeria.
“That is the essence of the classification of trade unions because we used to have mushrooms in the First Republic so the government restructured the unions and grouped all academics together and all non-academics together. You can’t have two or three in one field,” he said.
Falana said there is a Supreme Court judgment on the proliferation of trade unions – the Erasmus Osawe V Registrar of Trade Unions.
The senior lawyer also said the apex court ruled “that your freedom of association is not totalled; it is also regulated by the Trade Unions Act so that there will be no proliferation of trade unions”.
ASUU has been on strike since February 14, 2022, and has grounded academic activities in public varsities for over seven months.
The union is demanding the release of 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 (UTAS).