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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Nigerian law student asks court to stop Buhari, governors, others’ salaries over ASUU strike

A final year law student of Benue State University, Soohemba Agatha Aker, has dragged President Muhammadu Buhari, the 36 state governors, and others before a Federal High Court in Abuja over alleged poor handling of the dispute between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

ASUU since February 14, 2022, has grounded academic activities in public varsities for over industrial action.

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.

However, the law student now (Plaintiff) in the suit is asking the court to stop the salaries and allowances of President Buhari, the governors, and all political office holders in the country until the final resolution of the strike, Daily Post reports.

In the fundamental right enforcement suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1684/2022, the plaintiff/applicant also sought to order an order of the court stopping the Salaries of the Chief of Staff to the President, Secretary to the Federal Government, all members of the national assembly, all the Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, heads of parastatals, and extra ministerial bodies of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Others are; the Vice Chancellors and the members of Senate of striking Universities, as well as the salaries and allowances of striking universities and all the members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) should be stopped.

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The plaintiff claimed that she was currently affected by the ongoing strike and filed the action for herself on behalf of all students of public tertiary institutions currently affected by the nationwide ASUU strike.

In the suit filed by her counsel, Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, SAN, the applicant listed the respondents to include the Federal Government of Nigeria, Registered Trustees of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, President of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Governor of Abia State (also sued in his official capacity and in a representative capacity for all the other Governors of the 36 states of the federation).

The rest are Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC); Federation of Account Allocation Committee (FAAC); Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF); the Attorney General of Abia State (also sued in a representative capacity for all the other Hon Attorney-Generals of the Thirty-Five States of the Federation); the Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the University of Abuja (also sued in a representative capacity for all the other Vice Chancellors and the Members of the Senate of both Federal and State Universities currently participating in the ongoing ASUU Strike) and Umar Faruk (President, National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS).

The suit was filed pursuant to sections 46(1), (2) and (3) of the 1999 constitution and Article 17(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Chapter A9 (Charter 10 LFN 1990) No. 2 of 1983.

The applicant is equally seeking an order of mandamus compelling the defendants, including members of the Senate of the striking universities, to return to the first respondent their monthly salaries, allowances, and other benefits received individually or collectively from the day the industrial action of the second respondent commenced till date, pending the hearing and determination of the originating motion.
She further asked for an order of interlocutory injunction suspending the activities of 6th and 7th Respondents (RMAFC and FAAC), including payment of the monthly allocation funds to the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th & 10th Respondents pending the hearing and determination of the applicant’s suit.

In a supporting affidavit, she deposed to the fact that the ASUU strike had affected her adversely as her plans of graduating this academic year 2022 and applying for admission into the Nigerian Law School had been thwarted.

She, therefore, asked the court to “declare that refusal, failure, or neglect of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th, and 11th Respondents to put an end to the lingering industrial action (strike) of the members of the second respondent is wrongful, gross failure of duty to the future of Nigeria, an act of negligence to their constitutional responsibilities and amounts to a gross violation of the Applicants’ constitutional rights to a meaningful life, association, education, and developed capacity to own functional intellectual cum physical property.

“A declaration that refusal, failure, or neglect of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th, and 11th Respondents to put an end to the lingering industrial action (strike) of the members of the 2nd Respondent Union (most of whose children are abroad attending the best universities) is a function of the act of discrimination in the affording of educational opportunities to their children abroad and the neglected Applicant and teeming types all over the country.

“An order compelling the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th and 11th Respondents to immediately and forthwith inaugurate a Save the Future Think-Tank Committee of all parties herein or their representatives and other key stakeholders from all tiers of government and segments of the Nigerian societies as to map out immediate steps as to end the ongoing strike by 2nd Respondent and ensure uninterrupted academic calendar in all Nigerian tertiary institutions even in times of any of the industrial disputes in the sector.”

Meanwhile, no date has yet been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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