The lawsuit filed by Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment, against the Academic Staff Union of Universities, has been adjourned.
The case was heard by Justice Polycarp Hamman of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria in Abuja.
The National Industrial Court was requested by the Federal Government on Monday to order ASUU to end its seven-month strike.
Adamu Adamu, the minister of education, has joined the lawsuit as a claimant, while Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, the president of ASUU, is the only defendant.
Human rights advocate Ebunolu Adegoruwa, SAN, informed the court that he was representing the Socio- Economic Rights and Accountability Project and that he had filed a lawsuit on the same subject matter before the same court when the item that was scheduled for mention came up.
He added that SERAP was the claimant and the Federal Government was the defendant in the lawsuit NICN/ABJ/269/2022.
In order to avoid multiple lawsuits on the same topic being heard by the same court, he then applied for the consolidation of the current lawsuit and the addition of SERAP as a defendant.
In response, the claimant’s attorney, Mr. T.A. Gazali, SAN, stated that the application was premature and that SERAP did not need to orally request to be joined in a lawsuit in a case when its name was not on the cause list.
In his answer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, counsel for ASUU, told the court that both attorneys had told him on Monday that they were each filing certain papers.
Additionally, Falana urged the court to adjourn the case so that both attorneys may file their documents and return later to react to the claimant’s proceedings.
Adegoruwa responded that the defendant had not denied that the lawsuit SERAP had filed and served on them even existed.
Falana said he would need three days to respond to the process, and Gazali indicated he would file his process on Monday as well.
The subject was postponed until Friday for further discussion by the court in his decision.
In addition, he instructed both parties to file and serve their papers before the adjourned date: the claimant and the defendant.
Additionally, Hamman decided that SERAP’s request to be included in the lawsuit was too early.
In order to resolve the conflict, the claimant is also asking the court for an expedited hearing in the lawsuit.
Additionally, the claimant requests of the court in the instrument of referral that it “enquire into the legality or otherwise of the on-going extended strike by ASUU leadership and members which had continued even after apprehension by the Minister of Labour and Employment.
“Interpret in its entirety the provisions of Section 18, LFN 2004 especially as it applies to cessation of strike once a trade dispute is apprehended by the Minister of Labour end Employment and conciliation is on-going”.