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FG threatens to sue ASUU for contempt

THE Federal Government has threatened to file a lawsuit against Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU in the event that the striking lecturers do not return to work as directed by the National Industrial Court.

The minister of labor and employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, made this threat yesterday during an interview that was shown on Channel TV where he revealed that he had instructed labor controllers to monitor compliance at all tertiary institutions across the states.

He said, “The court says ASUU must obey today (Friday). I have asked labour controllers in the 36 states and the zones to reach out to the universities; number one, to see if the vice chancellors have opened the gates because that is one of the imports of the judgment of the Industrial Court.

“You must open the gates, you must open the class rooms and to see whether those workers, those teachers reported today, tomorrow Friday and Saturday. My labour controllers will write me a report.

“The Education Ministry through the NUC will also do their bit and we will compare it. By Tuesday, if they have complied with this, first, they will have the right to appeal as the court says.

“If they come back to their classroom, they will have time to attach evidence and do their appeal. My labour controllers will also give me things to support education in the country. If they don’t, go and read that portion of the NICN Act, they will be charged for contempt,” he said.

ASUU has stated that it will examine the appeal court’s decision ordering its members to resume back to work.

Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, the union’s national president, responded on the association’s behalf.

Reports reveal that the Court of Appeal in Abuja ordered the Academic Staff Union of Universities to end its strike on Friday.

The court issued the order instructing university teachers to resume work, after rejecting the union’s request for a stay of execution of a previous National Industrial Court decision

The union has been given permission to challenge the industrial court’s decision, but a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal chaired by Hamma Barka ruled that it must first start work in order to do so.

It stated that should ASUU fail to reopen the universities, the union’s authorization to challenge the National Industrial Court’s interlocutory order “would be automatically annulled.”

The university lecturers’ union was given seven days to file a notice of appeal against the National Industrial Court’s ruling.

“I am inclined to grant the application to appeal the decision of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria. But the order of the lower court shall be immediately obeyed,” the court held in its unanimous ruling.

But reacting to the court order, Osodeke said, “We will review the judgment with our lawyer and we will decide on the next step.”

On September 21, the National Industrial Court ordered ASUU to end the strike.

The federal government’s request on notice was granted by the court, ordering the lecturers back into the classrooms.

In his decision on the interlocutory injunction, trial judge Polycarp Hamman prevented ASUU from carrying out the industrial action until the outcome of the lawsuit brought by the federal government against ASUU.

Unhappy with the decision, the union went to the appeals court to challenge it.

Additionally, a request for a stay of the Industrial Court’s judgment was made.

However, the Court of Appeal ruled against ASUU’s request for a stay of the lower court’s judgment, ordering the lecturers to “immediately” end their eight-month strike.

It stated that ASUU had the right to challenge the industrial court’s ruling.

Supporting the Federal Government’s claim that ASUU cannot approach the appellate court with “dirty hands.” the panel stated that should the petitioner disobey the order (of the lower court), the leave granted will be immediately revoked.

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