By Faith Igbudu
The battle between the Federal Government (FG) and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has suffered another hitch as the National Industrial Court on Friday in Abuja declined a request to hear application for interlocutory injunction, compelling a suspension of the ongoing strike.
During Friday’s proceedings, the Federal Ministry of Transportation Labour and Productivity, plaintiff’s lawyer, James Igwe (SAN) in a suit brought against ASUU urged the court to hear his client’s pending application for interlocutory injunction.
He stressed that issues at stake were about national interest and an utmost urgency, noting that millions of students have been out of school since February 14, 2022 when university lecturers went on strike.
He added: “Section 47 of the Trade Dispute Act gives your lordship the power to direct that no worker should continue to embark on strike pending when the applications are heard and determined.”
However, Counsel to ASUU, Femi Falana (SAN) objected to Igwe’ s request, and argued that the plaintiff’s application could not be heard because the court had scheduled the case for further mention.
Falana said his client’s leaders were in the process of meeting with relevant stakeholders, including members of the House of Representatives on September 20 to further explore ways of resolving the dispute.
He added: “We are going out of our way to ensure that this matter is resolved and we appeal to the claimant (FG) to cooperate with us.”
Ruling on the suit, Justice Polycarp Hamman held that he would not hear the application by the FG because the case was scheduled for Friday for further mention.
Justice Hamman said: “The matter is for further mention, which means hearing cannot take place.”
The judge also held that the claimant’s application for interlocutory injunction, which has an affidavit of urgency, would be heard first at the next sitting.