By Adibe Emenyonu
The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Edo State Chapter, yesterday defied the state government’s directive to resume schools as primary school teachers stayed away from their classrooms.
The union also refused to heed the restraining order of the National Industrial Court (NIC), which ordered it to refrain from embarking on any strike action pending the determination of the substantive suit brought by the state government.
The Edo State Government (EDSG) in a statement signed last Thursday by the Secretary to State Government (SSG), Mr. Osarodion Ogie, had ordered public primary school teachers and school- heads to resume academic activities unfailingly on Monday, February 1, 2021 or risk forfeiture of their salaries.
The state government also threatened to apply “No work, No Pay” policy following the NUT’s directive to its members last Wednesday to ignore the February 1 resumption date proposed by the government while negotiations to resolve the strike continued.
The EDSG government yesterday obtained an order from the NIC, Benin Division, which restrained the state NUT from proceeding on any strike action in Edo State’s primary schools.
Hon. Justice A. A. Adewemimo, gave the order after listening to submissions put forward by the Edo State Solicitor-General, Mr. Oluwole Iyamu, SAN.
The EDSG and the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) were the applicants in the case with Suit No. NICN/BEN/04/2021.
The defendants in the suit were the Chairman of the NUT, Edo State, Mr. Pius O. Okhuleliegbe; Assistant Secretary General, NUT, Edo State, Mr. Moni Mike Modesty Itua, for themselves and on behalf of the members of the Edo State wing of the NUT.
Delivering her ruling, the Honourable Justice restrained the chairman and assistant secretary general of the NUT, Edo State, from acting through themselves or their agents or privies from embarking on any strike action pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice, which was fixed for Tuesday, February 9, 2021.
But a visit to some public primary schools across the state showed the teachers stuck to their guns and refused to resume academic activities. However, employees of the Local Government Education Authority (LGEA) and the SUBEB were sighted addressing pupils who turned to resume school.
The gate of the Ogbe Primary School was shut and some pupils were loitering around the area until men of the Public Works Volunteer (PUWOV) came and forced the gate open to allow pupils into the premises that were devoid of teachers.
But an alleged official of the LGEA came to led about 20 pupils to a classroom.
At Asoro Primary School, along Sokponba Road, a member of PUWOV was standing by the gate while a classroom was opened for pupils, who were attended to by a lady supposedly from the SUBEB.
At Emokpae Model Primary School, along Mission Road, four females suspected to be teachers were sighted at the school while few pupils were seen in two classrooms.
One of the teachers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they obeyed the state government’s order for the sake of the children.