From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana, SAN has described the registrarion of Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA), a splinter academic union of universities by the Federal Government as an act of illegality.
Besides, Falana stated that the splitter group will neither dismember nor disorganize the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, had on Tuesday, approved the registration of two new academic unions and ordered the newly registered unions to return to classrooms.
The two unions included the Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA) and the Nigerian Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA), who according to Ngige, had declared their rejection of ASUU’s modus-operandi.
But speaking at the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal, after a court session in the dispute between ASUU and the Federal Government, Falana faulted the actions taken by the Federal government in handling the protracted dispute.
Falana who is the lead counsel to ASUU, described the registration as illegal and a desperate measure by the government to break the strike.
He stated that ASUU has been at the forefront of sanitizing the Nigerian university system looking for funding to power the universities.
He said, “Government has tried various measures but the latest one is perhaps going to embarrass the government because it is an illegal exercise and won’t work. ASUU is today one of the most organised and united trade unions in Africa.
“Under the current Labour Law regime in Nigeria, you cannot have two unions or three unions in the same sector. In other words, within the academia in Nigeria, there can only be one registered trade union that is the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) registered pursuant to the Trade Union Act as amended.”
While noting that the action taken by the Federal Government will give rise to proliferation of academic unions, Falana advised government to return to the drawing table and ensure that proper advice is sought in order not to expose the country to ridicule.
“We are going to have to have a mushrooming of trade unions, which threatens industrial peace in the country. We cannot have two unions in the university nor can we have two unions in other unions in the country. Politically it wont work,” he said.