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Thursday, September 29, 2022

JUST IN: Lecturers can’t be forced back to classroom – Nigerian students reject ruling against ASUU

The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has rejected the National Industrial Court (NIC) judgment which ordered the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) to suspend its ongoing strike immediately.

Recall, that the ongoing ASUU strike which began Febuary 14, 2022, 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).

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The government had claimed to have addressed most of the union’s demands including the release of N50b for the payment of earned allowances for academic and non-academic and non-academic staff of universities but said the that the union will not be paid the arrears of the strike period.

ASUU has also insisted on not calling off the lingering strike until the arrears are settled.

Following instance of ASUU not to resume, the federal government, through the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige dragged the striking university lecturers before the National Industrial Court (NIC).

But delivering a ruling on the interlocutory injunction filed by the government, on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, Justice Polycarp Hamman restrained ASUU from continuing with the industrial action pending the determination of the suit.

Justice Polycap who is a vacation judge ordered that the case filed be returned to the president of the Industrial Court for reassignment to another judge.

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Reacting, the National Public Relations Officer of NANS, Giwa Yisa Temitope, described the ruling as a “black market judgment.”

Temitope said the ruling betrayed equity because the Federal Government ought not to drag the academic union before the court an initio.

According to him, the only remedy to this strike action is for the Federal Government to accede to the demands of ASUU which the government willingly entered into with them and properly fund education.

The statement reads “Our attention has been drawn to a news of a court judgment mandating the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to call of its 7 month strike. As an association, we feel disturbed to read the news of the judgment because we believe that it betrays equity.

“Ordinarily, the Federal Government is not meant to have dragged ASUU to court. But, the fact that they had to drag ASUU to court is a signal that this government cannot handle crisis. And, we want to state categorically that the court cannot force members of ASUU back to lecture theatres.

“And, as it stands today, with that court judgment, we maintain that the court has not resolved the problem and we reject the judgment in strong terms. The court could have said that the Federal Government should go and pay rather than say that lecturers who are on strike should go back to classrooms. We were expecting the court to have understood that lecturers are on contract of personal service hence, they cannot be compelled to render a service they don’t want to render.

“The only remedy to this strike action is for the Federal Government to accede to the demands of ASUU which the government willingly entered into with them and properly fund education.”

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