The National Industrial Court of Nigeria has reserved judgment for May 30 on the substantive application brought by the Federal Government challenging the eight-month strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
The presiding judge, Justice Benedict Kanyip, announced the date for judgment on Thursday after the parties in the matter adopted their written addresses in the referral NICN/ABJ/270/2022, as earlier directed by the court.
This was contained in a statement by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, which stated that at the last hearing on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, Justice Kanyip, the President of NICN, granted the defendants seven days to file a reply on point of law to the substantive application of the Federal Government, the claimants.
It said the application, alongside an affidavit in support, was served on ASUU and their lawyers since September last year, but they did not enter any defence, despite the seven days the court granted them last week to do so.
“When the matter came up today, the lead counsel for ASUU, Femi Falana, SAN, informed the court that they filed an appeal before the Court of Appeal, challenging its ruling on March 18, which validated the referral made by the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment.’’
“Falana said since they appealed the ruling, the court should stay action on the matter pending the determination of the appeal.
“Responding, Justice Kanyip told Falana that by Rule 47 of the NICN procedure, an appeal does not translate to a stay of execution.
“According to him, it is better to give a bad judgment than to give a good judgment in delayed time in labour matters,” it stated.
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According to the statement, Kanyip accused Falana of trying to stall the case, knowing full well that the court ordered at the last hearing that all the parties would adopt written addresses at the next adjourned date, which is May 11.
It further stated that, on his own part, counsel for the FG, Ita Enang, urged the court to disregard the notice of appeal by ASUU, since the record of the court stated that the parties were coming to adopt their written addresses.
“Enang said since the suit is not being challenged, the court should enter judgment in favour of the Federal Government,” it stated.
The statement further read, “In his ruling, Justice Kanyip rejected the request by Falana for a stay of proceedings and ordered that the matter should proceed.
“Kanyip, however, noted that a case before the Court of Appeal is not for the court to decide.
“Making his final submission, Falana told the court to rely on its own records, the six issues raised for determination, particularly issues five and six, pertaining to the legality of the ASUU strike, as well as exhibits and evidence in the determination of the matter.
“He urged the court to look at the reliefs sought by the claimants, mainly which the court has granted. He told the court not to sit as an appellate court over its own decision.
“After hearing the submissions of counsel in the matter, Justice Kanyip reserved judgment for May 30.
“The orders sought by the Federal Government include that the eight-month ASUU strike did not follow the law, in which case, making it an illegal strike. The government is also asking the court to declare that ASUU, having embarked on strike at that time, were not entitled to any payment as provided by the law in Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act, TDA, 2004 ‘No Work, No Pay’ policy and ILO principles on the right to strike.”