The National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) on Friday refused to hear an application by the federal government seeking an order directing the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to suspend its ongoing strike.
ASUU has been on strike since February 14 to press home the demand for improved funding for universities, and a review of salaries for lecturers, among other issues.
Several meetings between ASUU and the federal government have ended deadlocked.
The court had on Monday adjourned the matter to September 16 for further mention.
At the resumption of proceedings on Friday, the federal government through its counsel, James Igwe, tried to persuade the court to hear the claimants’ interlocutory application for an injunction against ASUU.
He said the matter is of national interest as millions of students have been at home since February 14.
“Section 47 of the Trade Dispute Act gives your lordship the power to direct that no worker should continue to embark on strike pending when the applications are heard and determined,” he said.
Opposing the claimant, Femi Falana said the applications cannot be taken because the business for the day is for further mention.
He said his clients are in the process of meeting with stakeholders, including members of the house of representatives on September 20, to settle the issues.
“We are going out of our way to ensure that this matter is resolved and we appeal to the claimant to corporate with us,” he said
In his ruling, Polycarp Hamman, the judge, said he would not hear the application since the matter was slated for further hearing.
“The matter is for further mention which means hearing cannot take place,” the judge ruled.
He also noted that the application for an interlocutory injunction, which has an affidavit of urgency, would be heard first at the next sitting.
Meanwhile, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, counsel to Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), raised the issue of joinder and consolidation of the suit, citing section 36 of the 1999 constitution.
He prayed the court that his application for joinder should be heard before any other application in the suit.
The suit filed by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) against ASUU and the federal ministry of education was also mentioned.
Debo, Ikuesan, counsel to Umar Lawal, NANS president, asked the court for a definite date for hearing the substantive suit.
However, the judge raised jurisdictional issues and asked the counsel to file a response on or before Tuesday, September 20.