The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, will today deliver judgement in an application by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), challenging the decision of the Industrial Court which ordered it to resume from its ongoing strike. The industrial court had on September 21 granted interlocutoryorderinfavourof the Federal Government ordering the university lecturers to resume work, pending the resolution of the dispute. Dissatisfiedwiththecourt order, ASUU, through its counsel Femi Falana (SAN), filed an application at the Court of Appeal, seeking the leaveof courttofileanappeal against the industrial court order.
Falana claimed that it is the right of his client to file an appeal against the interlocutory injunction because it is against them. Falana cited several authorities to the effect that ASUU must first seek and obtain leave of the court of appeal before filing notice of appealsoastoensurevalidity of the appeal.
The senior lawyer informed a three-man panel of the court, headed by Justice Hamma Barka, to reject government opposition against the application, adding that it will amount to a dangerous decision forhis client to be denied the right of appeal. Earlier, Falana had requested that the stay of execution of the ruling of the Industrial Court, contained in the application, be discontinued. However, opposing ASUU’s application, the Federal Government prayed thecourttodismisstheentire application on grounds of incompetenceandjurisdiction. Federal Government’s counsel, James Igwe (SAN), drew the attention of the court to the fact that the Industrial Court order made since September 21 has not been obeyed by the lecturers till date.
He also opposed the decision of ASUU to jettison stay of executionof theIndustrial Court order, adding that both parties have already joined issues. He argued that ASUU, having been in contempt of court, cannot come before the Court of Appeal with unclean hands to ask for a favour or attention of the court. Specifically, he cited order 6 Rule 4 of the Court of Appeal, adding that ASUU’s application, is in breach of the order, thereby making it incompetent and should not be granted.
Igwe further argued that proper parties were not before the court because the parties were wrongly and unlawfully listed on the application paper against the parties at the industrial court “ASUU is in contempt of court; it is illegal for ASUU to remain on strike in the face of the Industrial Court order. Section 18(1) of the Trade Dispute Act does not allow a partyincontempttocomebeforeCourtof Appealwiththe type of ASUU’s application.” Justice Barka Hamma, after taking arguments from the two parties, announced that the ruling of the court willbedeliveredonOctober7.