Resumption Order: Court to Decide ASUU’s Request to Appeal, Stay Judgment Friday 

Alex Enumah in Abuja 

The Court of Appeal, Abuja, will on Friday decide whether it should grant the request of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to appeal against the judgment of the National Industrial Court which had ordered it to call off its nearly eight months industrial action.

The court will also on the same day decide whether it should grant ASUU’s request to stay the order delivered by Justice Polycarp Hamman on September 21.

Ruling in an interlocutory motion brought by the federal government, Justice Hamman had directed the striking lecturers to resume work immediately pending the resolution of their dispute with the government.

The judge had predicated his action on Section 18 of the Trade Dispute Act that empowers him to make such decisions in the interest of the nation.

Dissatisfied, the university lecturers on September 23, filed a proposed Notice of Appeal to challenge the order of the industrial court.

When the matter came up on Wednesday, hearing could not go on due to the claim by the federal government that it has not been served with the court processes, leading the appellate court to adjourn to Thursday.

At Thursday’s proceedings, the counsel to ASUU, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), claimed that it is the right of his client to file an appeal against the interlocutory injunction because it is against them. 

Falana cited several authorities to the effect that ASUU must first seek and obtain leave of the court of appeal before filing notice of appeal so as to ensure the validity of the appeal.

The senior lawyer urged a three-man panel of the appellate court headed by Justice Barka Akawuu, to reject the federal government’s opposition to the  application, adding that it will amount to a dangerous decision for his client to be denied the right of appeal. 

Earlier, Falana had requested that the stay of execution of the ruling of the industrial court, contained in the application, be discontinued.

However in a vehement opposition to ASUU’s application, the federal government prayed the court to dismiss the entire application on grounds of incompetence and jurisdiction. 

The federal government’s lawyer, Mr James Igwe (SAN), drew the attention of the court to the fact that the Industrial Court order made since September 21, has not been obeyed by the lecturers till date. 

He also opposed the decision of ASUU to jettison stay of execution of the Industrial Court order, adding that both parties have already joined issues.

The senior lawyer argued that ASUU, having been in contempt of court, cannot come before the Court of Appeal with unclean hands to ask for a favour or attention of the court.

Specifically, he cited order 6 rule 4 of the Court of Appeal, adding that ASUU’s application is in breach of the order, thereby making it incompetent and should not be granted.

Similarly, Igwe argued that proper parties were not before the court because the parties were wrongly and unlawfully listed on the application paper against the parties at the industrial court

“ASUU is in contempt of court; it is illegal for ASUU to remain on strike in the face of the Industrial Court order. Section 18(1) of the Trade Dispute Act does not allow a party in contempt to come before Court of Appeal with the type of ASUU’s application,” Igwe argued.

He therefore prayed the Court of Appeal to dismiss the request of ASUU for leave to appeal against the Industrial Court order that has not been obeyed.

Justice Akawuu after taking arguments from the two parties, announced that the ruling of the court will be delivered on October 7.

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