ASUU strike: FG orders Vice Chancellors to reopen universities

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The Federal Government has ordered Vice-Chancellors in universities to re-open schools and to allow students to resume lectures.

This was contained in a letter signed by the Director, Finance and Accounts of National Universities Commission (NUC), Mr. Sam Onazi, on behalf of the Executive Secretary of the commission, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, in Abuja on Monday.

The letter, which was addressed to all vice-chancellors, Pro-Chancellors, and chairmen of governing councils of federal universities, called on them to re-open the universities.

“Ensure that ASUU members immediately resume/commence lectures; restore the daily activities and routines of the various University campuses,” the letter reads.

Recall that ASUU had embarked 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 in deadlock due to non-agreement on the demands.

The federal government went to court to challenge the strike, but the union insisted it would not resume but appeal the court’s ruling.

On Sept. 21, the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) in Abuja ordered ASUU to suspend its seven-month-old strike.

The judge, Polycarp Hamman, gave the order in a ruling on the federal government’s application for an interlocutory injunction against the ongoing ASUU strike.

Hamman, in granting the order on Wednesday, dismissed ASUU’s objection to the application.

But the union’s lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, urged the court to dismiss the federal government’s application and instead grant an accelerated hearing of the main suit.

Hamman agreed with the government that irreparable damage was being done to the lives of students rendered idle by the ongoing strike.

He said not granting the injunction would only cause additional damage to the ambitions of young Nigerians.

He cited examples of the National Youth Service Corps and employment in Nigeria’s armed forces, where age is a requirement for participation and employment.

Falana had argued that the affidavit filed by Ikechukwu Wamba, a legal officer at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, in support of the application should not be admitted as the deponent was neither a member of the university community nor part of any meetings held with the union.

But the judge Hamman disagreed, saying Wamba as a legal officer and a member of management at the labour ministry, had access to the official documents of the negotiations as well as offering legal advice to the minister.

The judge also disagreed with Falana’s submission that the government has not made necessary moves to curtail the strike since it commenced in February.

He said pieces of evidence from meetings with the government, which began days after the strike until 1 September, proved negotiations had been ongoing.

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