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Strike: FG’s suit against ASUU ill-conceived — SANs

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As the Academic Staff Union of Universities strike continues to linger, with the government taking them to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria for adjudication following the failure of dialogue between the union and the Federal Ministry of Education, some senior advocates of Nigeria have condemned the continued strike and asked the government to look for ways of resolving the dispute.

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They also noted that the Federal Government law suit against ASUU is ill-timed and ill-conceived.

Speaking on the continued strike, Solo Akuma, SAN, said it is very unfortunate that the Federal Government and ASSU’s dispute has degenerated to a level where there is no way both sides would not be blamed for the continued impasse. He added that the two sides have not properly managed the dispute in the eyes of reasonable members of the society.

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According to him, it should be understood that what an academic staff renders is a contract of personal service hence he cannot be compelled to render a service he doesn’t want to render.

He said, “That is the basic truth; what is important is not going to court because ordinarily, the court may not grant a request compelling ASSU to go back to class when you have not met the condition upon which the person will work.

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“The most important thing is to look at the issue act on it with all the amount of seriousness. The government should show good faith; maybe there is no good faith that is why ASSSU has been very pissed so let the government show good faith in the negotiation.”

As part of the good faith, Akuma asked the Federal Government to meet some of ASUU’s demand, insisting that this may make the leadership of the lecturer’s body call off the strike action it has embarked on since February 14, this year.

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“I think ASSU will be made to change its stance on strike because of all this demand, we have not heard that government released any amount. Also, government said they will not pay them for the time they were on strike.

Why is government paying those working in the refineries that are not functioning, so government cannot be selective but has to look at all these things and know what to do,” Akuma said.

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Corroborating Akuma’s stance on the lawsuit against ASUU, the founder of Comfort Chambers, Olalekan Ojo, SAN, said that the decision of the Federal Government to drag the union before the industrial court is not the best option in the circumstance since “adjudication by the court is necessarily adversarial in nature,” explaining that government ought to resolve the dispute “via a non-adversarial method, that is through alternative dispute resolution.”

“A labour dispute of this nature is best resolved by Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism. Order 27 of the NICN (Civil Procedure) Rules 2017 clearly shows preference for ADR in labour disputes. It is my considered view that it is most inexpedient to refer the dispute to NICN.

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“It is expected that the parties (ASUU and Federal Government) will respect the judgment of the NICN whichever way it goes. However it will be difficult to force the striking lecturers to go back to work on the basis of that judgment,” he said.

Another lawyer Yomi Alliyu, SAN, who supported the Federal Government action, said both parties are not above the law and since they haven’t reached a compromise either can seek the intervention of the courts.

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He said, “Certainly there is a trade dispute between ASUU and its employers. There are many laws guiding trade disputes. Any of the warring parties can approach the National Industrial Court for their rights and/or interpretation of statutes.

If the strike is illegal there is nothing stopping the court from declaring it as such. It is the best option in overriding public interest since all negotiations have failed.”

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But a Professor of Law, Isreal Worugji, disagreed with Alliyu’s view on the Federal Government’s action, noting that government should not have allowed the strike action to happen in the first place.

According to the don, it is very strange that government is talking about no work no pay in a strike that has lasted for six months.

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He said, “I cannot imagine that in the history of any employment relations trade dispute can take that length of time without being settled. Government is the employer; government has the machinery for settlement but government could not settle the matter but Government is rejoicing over the law that says no work no pay.

“It looks funny, it looks ridiculous. No work no pay is in the private sector, not government as an employer because the expectation is that government will not allow strikes to go the way we are experiencing now. “

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Worugji said the Federal Government’s insistence on No Work No Pay would not have been an issue had the government, as an employer, not consciously and deliberately instigated the dispute to linger.

He said, “It shows the highest level of irresponsibility on the side of the government as an employer. They think university work is like factory work. It doesn’t operate that way. As of this morning, I was still doing the assessment of professors from some universities but who will know that I am still working?

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It is a very clear show of lack of direction and responsibility that government will allow strike to last for six months, only for government now to know that there is a Trade Dispute Act and that Section 17 and 18 allows a minister to take over the matter and go to the industrial court: Does it show a responsible government as an employer? Does it show a government that has people that are mentally alert, responsive to their duties? Definitely, the answer will be no.

“To me, government going to the court is buying time prolonging the period of the strike. Going to the court, the case is not going to be settled within three days, in Nigeria, it will take two to three months, I don’t know the wisdom of going to the court instead of settling the matter.

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Has government said anything about their agreement with the Committee of the Chancellors and Vice Chancellors? Is it not ridiculous that two days after that meeting, they went to court?

“The truth is that the government under All Progressive Congress, led by Major General Muhammed Buhari (retd.) has lost focus and Nigerians should be told plainly to forget about APC, for now. Going to court they are looking for more time, the matter cannot be settled there. Government should swallow its pride and address issues.”

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After 138 days: Journalist detained for allegedly exposing Ogun state Gov, finally released

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Prince Olamilekan Hammed, blogger and publisher of Eagles Foresight has been released on bail after spending 138 days in detention.

His lawyer, Habeeb Whyte, confirmed his release to The PUNCH in a phone conversation.

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“Yes, he has been released. The case was struck out,” he said.

The journalist was detained by the DSS, also known as the State Security Service (SSS), on the orders of Dapo Abiodun.

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According to his lawyer, he was invited by the agency over a report he published exposing the criminal activities of Abiodun.

The Ogun State Command of the State Security Service (SSS) has arrested and detained blogger and publisher of eaglesforesight.com.ng, Prince Olamilekan Hammed (Lahbash) for reasons yet to be disclosed,” the lawyer had said in a statement.

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However, it was reported that Ogun State Government denied Governor Abiodun’s involvement in the blogger’s arrest and detention.

He was detained for publishing a story relating to Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun’s credit card fraud in the United States of America.

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It was gathered that Hammed, who appeared before the Federal High Court 1, Abeokuta, the Ogun State Capital, was released on Tuesday.

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Confusion as Court nullifies all PDP primaries in Ogun elections

governorship, Osun, campaign
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* Bars INEC from recognising
as governorship candidate

*Orders another primary in 14 days

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By Francesca Iwambe

A Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital, on has nullified all the primary elections conducted by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in choosing candidates for the 2023 general elections in the State.

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The presiding judge, Justice O. O Oguntoyinbo in his judgement ordered the party to conduct another primaries within the next 14 days.

The court also barred the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from recognising Hon. Ladi Adebutu as the governorship candidate of the party in the state.

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The party had on May 25 conducted the primary election which produced Adebutu as the governorship candidate of the party.

But three members of the party, Taiwo Olabode Idris, Kehinde Akala and Alhaji Ayinde Monsuri had dragged the party, Ladi Adebutu and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to court challenging the authenticity of the delegates’ lists used for the conduct of the primaries.

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The plaintiffs argued, the persons on delegates’ list used by electoral panel for the primaries were not democratically elected at the ward, local government and state congresses, hence the panel “cannot unilaterally or arbitrarily impose” the list on the party for the primaries.

The plaintiffs in their originating summons, had prayed the court among others to nullify or set aside the state congress/indirect primary election, held by the 1st defendant (PDP) on 25th of May, 2022 “for the purpose of choosing the candidate which the 1st Defendant intends to nominate/sponsor at the 2023 Governorship election in Ogun State based on the list of delegates who were not democratically elected at the ward congress.”

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They also sought an order directing the 2nd Defendant (INEC) “to disregard and/or refrain from giving effect to the results of the alleged 1st Defendant’s indirect primary election held on the 25th of May, 2022 based on the list of ad-hoc delegates who were not elected at the ward congresses constituted by the 1st Defendant for that purpose”.

Reacting to the judgement, Counsel to the plaintiffs, Thaddeus Idenyi said, the court nullified the election “because it was conducted using a list of ad-hoc delegates who were not elected.

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“The implication of the judgement is obvious, the PDP will have to put their house together and then conduct a fresh primary as ordered by the court.

“This time around, the court was specific that they have to use the list that has been certified by INEC because after the primary, those lists were submitted to INEC as parts of its report of covering those ward congresses held, so the court has now said that is the list which must be considered in the conduct of the fresh primaries, so the PDP had to just put their house together and use those lists to conduct a fresh primary.”

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The Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Akinloye Bankole said, the party would study the judgement before any action is taken.

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Jubilation in Rivers as Wike receives aircraft abandoned in Germany

Wike
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By Francesca Iwambe

There was Jubilation in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital on Tuesday as governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, said the recovery and eventual return of an asset of the State, Legacy 600 Aircraft, was a reality and not mere politics.

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The governor had earlier on Tuesday morning returned to Nigeria from London, where he had traveled to for an undisclosed reason, along with his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom.

Wike spoke after receiving the Legacy 600 aircraft that touched down on Tuesday at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa in Ikwerre local government area of the State.

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He explained that it took intelligence report for his administration to discover such asset, owned by the state government.

“The immediate past administration flew the aircraft to far away Germany, without any record of it made available to his administration.

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“To the glory of God, the plane is back and Rivers people can see, Nigerians can see. It is not that we are playing politics. All we are saying, we never knew, nobody told us until we got intelligence that we have this asset somewhere”, he said.

Wike recalled that the Legacy 600 Aircraft was purchased by the Dr. Peter Odili-led administration to serve the interest of Rivers people, but was abandoned with the General Atomics Aerotec in Munich, Germany by the Chibuike Rotimi Ameachi-led administration since 2012.

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The governor said: “What is very important to all of us here today is that when we came into power in 2015, nobody handed over any report or gave us handover note to let us know where such asset of the State was, only for us to hear in 2019 that this asset is somewhere.”

He said that because air transportation is a more technical area, great care was taken to put the Legacy 600 Aircraft into its best form to undertake air travel effectively.

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Wike stated that so much money was expended by the state government on the aircraft, money that would have gone into other development projects if his administration had known of the Aircraft quite early.

“In fixing the aircraft, certificate of air worthiness issued by the Nigerian government, was secured for the aircraft to return to Nigeria.

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“Of course, we did everything we could do and we told Nigerians that by the grace of God we will not allow this asset to go that way. We must return it for the people of the State to decide what they are going to do with it.

“I am so elated that at the end of the day, all of our struggles are not in vain. I thank Rivers people for the support. I thank the Rivers State House of Assembly for the support. I thank the Executive for the support.

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“But for their support, it would not have been possible to spend the money we spent. If you hear the money we spent, it’s money that would have been put in other development projects if we were told on time of it.”

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