The Nigerian National Industrial Court (NICN) has ordered the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to end its statewide strike.
ASUU has been on strike since February 14 to advocate for increased university funding and a reassessment of academics’ wages, among other things.
Several discussions between ASUU and the federal government have resulted in a stalemate.
As a result, the federal government filed a lawsuit to stop the strike.
The government’s counsel, James Igwe, asked the court for an interlocutory order preventing ASUU from proceeding with the strike until the substantive complaint was resolved.
Igwe said that the lawsuit was filed because it was in the best interest of the country. He also said that the strike would hurt Nigerian students and the country in ways that could not be fixed.
The counsel argued that section 18(1)E of the Trade Disputes Act prohibits employees from striking while a matter is before the industrial court.
In opposition to the application, ASUU counsel Femi Falana said asking the union to resume work is “wrong and shameful.”
He claimed that if the applicants had followed previous agreements and memorandums of understanding, there would have been no need for a strike.
He further stated that the injunction was unnecessary because the strike had lasted seven months.
The judge, Polycarp Hamman, granted the request in his decision on Wednesday.
He held that the strike is detrimental to public university students who cannot afford to attend private tertiary institutions.
He said the TDA mandates workers not to embark on strike once an issue has been referred to the industrial court.
“The balance of convenience tilts in favour of the applicant,” he held.
“I hold that this application is meritorious and this application is granted.”
The court therefore restrained “ASUU, whether by themselves, members, agents, privies or howsoever called, from taking further steps and doing any act in continuance of the strike action pending the hearing and determination of the suit filed”.
The judge also refused to fine the federal government as demanded by ASUU.