Renowned human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, has said the refusal of the Academic Staff Union of Universities to call off its industrial action isn’t a contempt of court as being speculated by the Nigerian government.
Activities in public universities have been grounded for seven months due to an ongoing strike by the lecturers.
Recall A Judge, Polycarp Hamman, of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) sitting in Abuja on Wednesday, September 21, 2022 granted an interlocutory injunction application by the Nigerian government to restrain ASUU from continuing with the strike pending its determination of the substantive suit.
While ASUU challenged the order at the Appellate Court, Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment on Sunday accused the leadership of the union of misinforming and misleading its members and warned of consequences of contempt of court order, noting that “the Federal Government strongly frowns at this.”
Reacting in a statement on Monday, Falana said it was legal to continue with the strike because ASUU filed a motion for stay of execution alongside its appeal of the NICN order.
The lawyer urged the Nigerian government to take advantage of the intervention of the leadership of the House of Representatives to resolve all outstanding issues and end the strike as soon as possible.
He said, “The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige has accused the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) of disobeying the order of the National Industrial Court by not directing its members to resume work in the nation’s public universities. The Minister also accused ASUU of misleading the public by saying that it has filed an appeal against the interlocutory order of the National Industrial Court. We wish to point out to the Minister that ASUU is a law abiding organisation whose activities are conducted within the ambit of the rule of law.