The National Industrial Court has ordered the suspension of the seven-month-old strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
This follows the granting of the motion on notice filed by the Federal Government on Wednesday.
On Monday, counsel to the Federal Government, Mr James Igwe, had urged the court to grant the interlocutory application because of its urgency as well as the infrastructural damage on tertiary institutions occasioned by the industrial action which began since 14th February.
Igwe, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said that based on trade union laws, the court had powers to call off the ASUU strike while negotiations between the union and government continued.
But counsel to ASUU, Mr Femi Falana, who is also a SAN, had told the court that the Federal Government must show how the strike has caused damage to tertiary institutions.
He had contended that the government’s refusal to fulfil its agreement with ASUU constituted damage on the lecturers, their welfare and the wellbeing of educational institutions.
Falana urged the court to dismiss the application because it is based on hearsay and that the Federal Government’s representative is not a member of the university community.
In his ruling on Wednesday, Justice Polycarp Hamman observed that the strike action by ASUU has had impacts on the lives of the students.
He said it was obvious that the legal adviser of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment had access to legal issues relating to the trade dispute.
“I do not see how the information is a hearsay”, the judge held.
However, the judge said in the interest of justice and fairness to all, he would grant the Federal Government’s request citing damage and conduct of parties.
He agreed that the government, who is the owners of federal universities, stands to lose more if the application is not granted.
“Students have been out of school for seven months in Nigeria where age is a factor in employment:, he said.
The judge added that the National Youth Service Corps even bars graduates aged 30 for going for youth service.
“I therefore hold that the balance of convenience tilts in favor of granting the application”, the judge said.
Justice Hamman said that the prolonged strike inflicts irreparable damage on Nigerian students and they have been at home since 14th February.
Subsequently, the court suspended the ASUU strike citing its discretionary powers over trade union disputes.