Justice Polycarp Hamman of the National Industrial Court on Monday adjourned the suit against the Academic Staff Union of Universities which was filed by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.

The Federal Government urged the National Industrial Court to order ASUU to call off its seven months strike.

ASUU has been on strike since February 14 this year, over issues surrounding lack of funding for public universities, disagreement over salary payment platforms, and unpaid earned allowances, as contained in the agreement with the federal government in 2009.

The Federal government has not been able to reach any tangible agreement with the universities’ unions, a development that has grounded government-owned universities.

Joined as a claimant in the matter is the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, with the President of ASUU, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, as the sole defendant.

SERAP joins suit

During the proceedings, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) sought to join the suit as an interested party.

SERAP’s lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegnoruwa said his client had filed a similar suit to compel the Federal Government to honour its 2009 agreement with the striking lecturers.

He said SERAP’s request to join in the matter is based on the need to forestall the duplicity of outcomes concerning the industrial dispute. However, counsel to the Federal Government, Tijjani Gazali (SAN) opposed SERAP’s application to consolidate the suits.

He told the judge that SERAP’s application was premature as the case was billed for mention on Monday.  Counsel to ASUU, Femi Falana, however, argued that he was aware of the efforts by lawyers to file court papers in the suit on Monday.

Falana also urged the court to step down the matter to enable both counsels to file their papers, after which he would have responded to the claimant’s process.

The Judge, Justice Polycarp Hamman ruled that the suit is not ripe for consolidation by SERAP.

Justice Hamman said he was only presiding over the matter as a vacation judge and that the case would be assigned to another judge for adjudication.

He, thereafter, adjourned the matter to the 16th of September.

RN