National Industrial Court Cannot Order ASUU Back to Work – Falana

Human rights lawyer and senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, has stated that the National Industrial Court does not have jurisdiction to rule on the case between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government.

The Federal Government had dragged ASUU to court to force striking lecturers back to their duty posts.

On Wednesday, Polycarp Hamman, the judge in the National Industrial Court, granted the FG’s application for an interlocutory injunction to restrain ASUU from continuing with the strike.

Falana said this while reacting to the court’s ruling on Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television programme, on Friday; he said the case is the first case of that nature to be handled by NIC.

“This is the first time in the history of that court that we have been told that the minister can refer a case to the national industrial court without going through the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP),” he said.

“Because the NIC under the current labour law regime in Nigeria is an appellate chamber of the AIP. So, it is an appellate court. It is only when individuals are sacked that you want to challenge your employer or there are intra or inter-union disputes that you
approach the national industrial court.

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“There must be meditation, conciliation and arbitration under the law.

“[It was wrong to approach the court] we tried to explain to the court, and the court said they would look at that later.

“We made clear to the court and submitted more than six cases where the same court as warned the minister consistently that you cannot come here without originating your case in the IAP if it relates to trade disputes.

“The court so found that this is a trade dispute, and that there was no reference to the IAP, but the court in its wisdom decided to intervene, and the only way you can show your dissatisfaction is to approach the appeal court which ASUU has decided to do.”

Counsel to ASUU, Falana, has said the ruling would be appealed, and ASUU will seek a stay of execution.

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