A human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, has said that the failure of the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to resume as ordered by a court on Wednesday could be legal as long as an application for suspension of the strike has been filed. enforcement “along with the request for appeal.”
A judge, Polycarp Hamman, of the Abuja-based National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) had granted an interlocutory injunction request from the Nigerian government to prevent ASUU from continuing the strike pending its determination of the substantive claim.
While ASUU said it is appealing the court order, many Nigerian students have questioned whether it would not amount to contempt of court if the union does not call off the strike before the appeal is heard.
But speaking on the PREMIUM TIMES Twitter feed on Thursday, Effiong said it would be legal to continue the strike if the union had already filed a stay of execution motion along with the appeal request.
He said: “A stay of execution can be granted on the terms in which an appeal has been filed or when an application is filed with the court. I am aware that the decision to appeal was made and I am also aware that that appeal is accompanied by a motion to stay.”
Also speaking on Twitter Space, a former ASUU welfare officer at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Chijioke Uwasomba, confirmed that the union has filed an appeal in the appeals court.
“Early this morning, our lawyers have appealed and they have also asked for a stay of execution,” he said Thursday.
He noted that the disputes that gave rise to the strike could easily have been resolved if the government had committed to funding public education.
Mr Uwasomba also condemned the government’s ‘No work, no pay’ stance, insisting that teaching was the only aspect of teachers’ work affected by the strike.
He noted that the research and community service carried out by the speakers have continued unhindered for the past seven months.
‘The court will not resolve the dispute’
Both Messr Effiong and Uwasomba stated that the legal option would not end the dispute between the Nigerian government and the aggrieved speakers.
Uwasomba said the option would complicate the conflict.
He accused the government of being irresponsible and disregarding the Nigerian people.
For his part, Effiong suggested that both parties return to the negotiating table, noting that “litigation is not the best way to resolve the problem.”
While he called on both sides to find a middle ground, he noted that going back to class without any significant achievements will be counterproductive.
He said: “If you tell students to go back to class and then they make no difference, nothing is felt in terms of impact, nothing is seen in terms of a positive perspective of this strike, what would have been the essence to stay? at home for seven months.
He called on the federal government to implement the agreements reached with ASUU “but I also say that ASUU must also be aware and be open to areas where some kind of compromise can be reached because, ultimately, there has to be a compromise” .
‘ASUU must defend the right of students’
Meanwhile, Effiong has tasked ASUU to also defend the rights of students who are trampled on in some public universities.
The human rights lawyer condemned the cases in which some university officials banned the student union and its activities.
“When it comes to the issues that affect students in this country, ASUU doesn’t seem to exude the level of passion that we all see when they have settlement-related issues with the federal government,” he said. “So after the strike, I hope that ASUU goes back to its various branches and begins to ask how they can be more effective in responding to student concerns, both against professors who victimize students and university administration who also is taking drastic measures. about the rights of students to organize and also to speak for themselves.”
Qosim Suleiman is a reporter for Premium Times in partnership with report to the worldwhich pairs local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on hidden issues around the world