ENUGU, Nigeria (VOICE OF NAIJA)- The National Industrial Court on Thursday fixed 30 May to deliver judgement in the suit filed by the federal government against the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
In the suit, the federal government dragged ASUU before the court to determine the substantive suit filed during the 2022 ASUU’s eight-month strike.
When the matter came up before Justice Benedict Kanyip on Thursday, Senator Ita Enang, the claimants’ counsel, informed the court that the matter was slated for adoption of written addresses.
Mr. Femi Falana SAN, the defendant’s counsel, on his part, however, informed the court that he had filed a notice of appeal before the Court of Appeal.
Mr. Falana stated that he was contesting the ruling of the court of March 28, which ruled that the Minister of Labour and Employment has the power to refer the matter to the National Industrial Court.
He further prayed for a stay of execution and for the matter to be adjourned pending the outcome of the Court of Appeal’s decision.
He also submitted that the issue of competence of the appeal was for the Court of Appeal to determine as argued by Ms Enang.
Enang urged the court to proceed with the matter of the day which was the adoption of written addresses.
The court in its ruling stated that time is of essence in the delivery of justice.
”It is better to get a bad judgment quickly than a good judgment in delayed time in labour matters”.
The court also ruled that the authorities cited by the defence counsel were not applicable in the extant case.
The court equally cited Rule 47 of NICN 2006 proceeding and stated that an appeal did not translate to a stay of execution.
The judge also said that the defence had shown a lack of seriousness by not filing its defence and instead opted to file an application for a stay of execution.
The court in addition said that various applications had slowed down the matter.
Mr. Kanyip further said: “the application for stay of execution is rejected and the case will proceed and ruling is entered according”.
The court, therefore, directed the claimant’s counsel to proceed to adopt his written address.
The counsel, in response, urged the court to grant all reliefs sought as the suit was not challenged nor contested by defence through its failure to file processes of defence.
Mr. Falana, on his part, urged the court to consider its record which had his earlier affidavit filed on 16 September, 2022.
He argued that the affidavit which was not challenged encapsulate his defence.
The court therefore adjourned the matter until 30 May, for judgment.
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The court adjourned until 21 June, a sister case where ASUU is the claimant.
ASUU in the suit is seeking the court to order the Minister of Labour and Employment to accept its return of the annual financial report
The court had to adjourn as the third defendant’s counsel, Mr. Alex Akoja informed the court that he just came into the matter.
Mr. Akoja therefore prayed for the adjournment to enable him file processes.
The third suit involving the parties was also adjourned until 21 June, for a report of settlement/ hearing.
The suit where ASUU is also the claimant has the Minister of Labour and Employment and Registrar Trade Unions as defendants.
Earlier, Mr. Falana informed the court that he filed a motion for the matter to be transferred to the Alternative Dispute Resolution ( ADR) Centre of the court.
Mr Enang, however, responded that he was contesting the referral as the claimant had admitted to having failed to file its annual financial returns within the stipulated time.
He also withdrew his preliminary objection application premised on lack of jurisdiction.
The court equally granted Mr. Falana the leave to move his application for the court to refer the matter to ADR.
The court having granted the application adjourned the matter until 21 June, for a report of settlement/hearing.