From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The National Industrial Court (NIC) has struck down a suit filed by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) seeking to compel the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government to call off the ongoing strike action.
Justice Polycarp Hamman struck down the suit after it was withdrawn by factional President of NANS Umar Faruk Lawal.
The suit also had joined the Minister of Education and the Attorney-General of the Federation as 2nd and 3rd Respondents.
When the case was called on Tuesday, Lawal informed the court of a motion for discontinuance filed by him.
The withdrawal of the suit was on account of the motion filed by NANS challenging his locus standi to institute the action as well as his position as the President of the association.
Counsel to ASUU Marshal Abubakar informed the court that he was not opposed to Lawal’s application to withdraw the suit.
The suit was consequently, struck out by the court.
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The NIC had in the judgement that was delivered on September 21 ordered the striking varsity lecturers to return to the classroom, pending the determination of a suit the Federal Government filed to query the legality of their strike action.
ASUU had since gone before the Court of Appeal in Abuja to set aside the NIC judgement that ordered it to call off its over seven-month old strike action.
The union, in a 14-ground of appeal, also applied for a stay of execution of the judgement.
The interim injunction directing ASUU members to resume work followed an application FG filed through its lawyer, Mr James Igwe.
Justice Hamman held that the order was both in national interest and for the sake of undergraduates in the country that have been at home since February 14.
The court held that the strike action was detrimental to public university students that cannot afford to attend private tertiary institutions.
“The balance of convenience tilts in favour of the applicant.
“I hold that this application is meritorious and this application is granted”, Justice Hamman ruled.
ASUU, in its appeal, maintained that Justice Hamman “erred in law and occasioned a miscarriage of justice when he decided to hear and determine the Respondents’ motion for interlocutory injunction when he knew or ought to have known that the substantive suit was not initiated by due process of law.”
It argued that the mandatory steps and procedure stipulated in Part 1 of the Trade Dispute Act, TDA, was not followed by FG.
In addition, ASUU averred that the trial judge acted utra vires and misdirected himself when he unlawfully assumed jurisdiction to entertain the matter, adding that what was granted as an interlocutory order was the same relief FG sought in its substantive suit.