The Federal Government (FG) has filed a lawsuit against the current Academic Staff Union of Universities strike, and a National Industrial Court in Abuja has postponed hearing in that case for September 16th (ASUU).
In his decision on Monday, Justice Polycarp Hamman delayed the case until Friday to allow parties to provide the required paperwork.
Both the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project's (SERAP) motion for joinder and its attorney's plea to consolidate the action with an earlier one filed by the organisation were denied by Justice Hamman.
At the mention of the case, SERAP’s lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), said his client seeks to be made a party in the suit with the possibility of having it consolidated with the one the group earlier filed.
Adegboruwa said SERAP filed a similar suit, seeking among others, to compel the Federal Government to honour its 2009 agreement with the striking lecturers.
He added: “We filed a similar suit on 8 September, asking the court to compel the Federal Government to honour an agreement it willingly entered into with ASUU.”
Adegboruwa said his client’s request to be made a party to the suit was to forestall duplicity of outcomes concerning the industrial dispute.
Lawyer to the Federal Government, Tijani Gazali (SAN) raised an objection to SERAP’s request for the consolidation of both cases.
Gazali contended that SERAP’s application was premature because the case was fixed for mention on Monday.
In his submission, the lawyer to ASUU, Femi Falana, said he was aware of efforts by the lawyers to file necessary documents on Monday.
Ruling, Justice Hamman agreed with the Federal Government lawyer’s argument that the suit was not ripe for consolidation.
The judge said he was only presiding as a vacation judge and that the case would be re-assigned after the court’s vacation.
Justice Hamman then ordered parties in the suit to file and exchange all necessary processes and adjourned till September 16.
Monday’s court session was witnessed by ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke and other officials of the group.
Speaking outside the courtroom, Falana noted that the Federal Government often adopts “dilatory tactics that have a way of prolonging strikes.”
He added: “They (government) are yet to put their house in order. The government has not been able to make a case for the intervention of the court, hence the basis for adjournment.
“This is not the first time the government have adopted these rather dilatory tactics that have a way of prolonging the strike.
“We were here last year when you have the resident doctors’ strike. It was the same approach.
“They (the government) said they (the resident doctors) won’t be paid, but at the end of the day, the government had to pay them. And that is what happens all the time.”
Adegboruwa said the Federal Government has abdicated its responsibility of funding public universities, a development that informed the suit filed by his client.