The lawsuit filled by Chris Ngige, minister of labor and employment, against the Academic Staff Union of Universities has been adjourned.
Justice Polycarp Hamman of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria in Abuja presided over the case.
The National Industrial Court was requested by the Federal Government on Monday to order ASUU to end its seven-month strike.
Adamu Adamu, the minister of education, joined the lawsuit as a claimant, while Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, the president of ASUU, is the only defendant.
Human rights advocate Ebunolu Adegoruwa, SAN, informed the court that he was representing the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project and that he had filed a lawsuit on the same subject matter when the topic scheduled for mention came up.
He also stated that in the suit NICN/ABJ/269/2022, SERAP was the claimant with the Federal Government as the defendant.
He, therefore, proceeded to apply that the extant suit be consolidated and SERAP be joined in the suit as a defendant, instead of multiple suits on the same matter before the same court.
Counsel to the claimant, Mr T.A Gazali, SAN, in response, said the application was premature and added that there was no need for SERAP to pray to be joined in a suit, orally, in a matter that did not have its name on the cause list.
Mr Femi Falana, SAN, counsel to ASUU, in his response, informed the court that both counsel had informed him on Monday that they were both filing some papers.
Falana, in addition, urged the court to step down the matter to enable both counsel to file their papers and then return at a later date after which he would have responded to the claimant’s process.
The judge, in his ruling, adjourned the matter until Friday, for further mention.
He also directed that the claimant should file, serve his process, and the defendant to also file and serve his response before the adjourned date.
Hamman, in addition, ruled that SERAP’s application to be joined in the suit was premature.
The suit filed by the claimant is also seeking the court to give the matter an accelerated hearing in order to bring the dispute to an end.
The claimant, also, in the instrument of referral, is praying the court to: “Inquire into the legality or otherwise of the on-going prolonged strike by ASUU leadership and members which had continued even after apprehension by the Minister of Labour and Employment.
“Interpret in its entirety the provisions of Section 18, LFN 2004 especially as it applies to cessation of strike once a trade dispute is apprehended by the Minister of Labour end Employment and conciliation is on-going”.