The Federal Government has threatened to sue the striking lecturers, who are members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities on failure to resume as ruled by the National Industrial Court.
Dr. Chris, the Minister of Labour and Employment issued the threat on Friday in an interview with Channel TV. He stated that he directed labour controllers to watch that all tertiary institutions across the states, comply with the ruling.
Dr. Ngige said, “The court says ASUU must obey today (Friday). I have asked labour controllers in the 36 states and the zones to reach out to the universities; number one, to see if the vice-chancellors have opened the gates because that is one of the imports of the judgment of the Industrial Court.
FG threatens ASUU with contempt over prolonged strike
“You must open the gates, you must open the classrooms and see whether those workers, those teachers reported today, tomorrow Friday and Saturday. My labour controllers will write me a report.
“The Education Ministry through the NUC will also do their bit and we will compare it. By Tuesday, if they have complied with this, first, they will have the right to appeal as the court says.
“If they come back to their classroom, they will have time to attach evidence and do their appeal. My labor controllers will also give me things to support education in the country. If they don’t, go and read that portion of the NICN Act, they will be charged for contempt,” he said.
Meanwhile, the ASUU has said it will study the ruling of the appeal court which ordered its members to return back to work.
The union’s national president, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke reacted on behalf of the union.
The court gave the order after dismissing the union’s application for a stay of execution of an earlier ruling of the National Industrial Court directing the university lecturers to resume work.
The three-member panel of the Court of Appeal led by Hamma Barka granted the union permission to appeal the ruling of the industrial court but ruled that it must first resume work to be allowed to file the appeal.
It said should ASUU fail to re-open the universities, the permission it gave the union to appeal against the interlocutory injunction of the National Industrial Court “will be automatically vacated.”
The university lecturers’ union was given seven days in order to file its notice of appeal against the order of the National Industrial Court.
The National Industrial Court ordered on 21 September that ASUU call off the strike.
“I am inclined to grant the application to appeal the decision of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria. But the order of the lower court shall be immediately obeyed,” the court held in its unanimous ruling.
Osodeke reacting to the court order said, “We will review the judgment with our lawyer and we will decide on the next step.”
The court passed the motion on notice filed by the federal government, mandating lecturers to return to classrooms.
Polycarp Hamman, the trial judge ruling the interlocutory ultimatum, stopped ASUU from persisting with the industrial action pending the judgment of the suit filed against ASUU by the federal government.
However, the union was dissatisfied with the ruling and proceeded to the appeal court to appeal the ruling.
It also filed a stay of implementation of the ruling of the industrial court.
But the Court of Appeal instructed the striking lecturers to “immediately” call off the eight-month strike, striking out ASUU’s application for a stay of execution of the lower court’s order.
It said it was within ASUU’s right to appeal the decision of the industrial court.
Agreeing with the Federal Government’s argument that ASUU cannot approach the appellate court with “dirty hands”, the panel held, “should the applicant fail to obey the order (of the lower court), the leave granted shall be automatically vacated.”
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