The National Industrial Court on Tuesday adjourned the Federal government suit against the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) until March 28 for ruling.
The claimants, Federal government and the Minister of Education, had dragged ASUU before the court in August 2022 over the then strike, for interpretation and application of some Trade Dispute Act (TDA).
The matter before the president of the court, Justice Benedict Kanyip, came up on Tuesday for hearing of the defendant’s preliminary objection.
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However, when the matter was called, the defence counsel, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, informed the court that his process on Reply on Point of Law could not be filed on Monday at the court’s registry due to internet issue.
He, therefore, sought for the leave of court for a short adjournment.
The judge in response stepped down the matter until 1.00 p.m. to enable the counsel properly file his process and serve on the claimants’ counsel.
When the court resumed, Falana applied for his motion dated and filed Sept. 19, 2022, seeking for the leave of court for extension and his Reply on Point of Law filed Tuesday to be deemed as properly filed.
He further proceeded to inform the court that his preliminary objection was premised on jurisdiction of the court and he relied on order 3 rule 6 of the TDA to argue that the Minister of Labour and Employment did not follow due process before issuing the referral to the court.
He stated that reconciliation steps were not duly followed and that the Minister could approach the court if parties of a Trade Union could not resolve their differences.
Mr J.U.K Igwe, SAN, counsel to FG and Minister of Education, in response to Falana’s submission, stated that Falana’s reply which he received five minutes before the court’s proceeding was on reply of facts and not on law.
He further stated that all the authorities cited by the counsel did not have any relevance to his application.
Igwe, in addition, stated that the defence counsel should have sought for the leave of court to file a counter-affidavit.
He also said the National Industrial Court with its exclusive jurisdiction on industrial matter had the jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
Igwe stated that the Minister did not act out of the ordinary as order 3 rule 6 of the TDA conferred on him the power to refer the matter to NICN.
He added that the matter was also of national interest.
He concluded by urging the court to discountenance the defence counsel’s objection.
The judge, therefore, adjourned the matter until March 28 for ruling.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Minister of Labour and Employment, on behalf of the Federal government, had filed the matter before the court by way of referral for the court to resolve the issue of the strike and for interpretation of certain sections of the TDA.
The court on its part on Sept. 21, 2022 directed the defendant to end its strike and return to work.
The vacation judge who had presided over the matter after delivering ruling on the interim injunction returned the file to the president of the court for reassignment for the hearing of the substantive suit.