By Francesca Iwambe
The National Industrial Court has fixed Wednesday, September 21 to rule on the application for an interlocutory injunction filed by the Federal Government against the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Justice Peter Hamman fixed the date on Monday after the lead counsel to the Federal Government, Mr James Igwe, argued his application seeking an order of the court restraining ASUU from further continuing with the ongoing nationwide strike.
The government had approached the court to challenge the ongoing industrial action by the university lecturers.
But the court, at the previous sitting last Friday, adjourned the suit until Monday (September 19) to hear the interlocutory injunction of the government.
Igwe had asked the court to give the suit an accelerated hearing due to the urgency of the matter to enable students to return to school.
He stated that since the matter was already in court, it would be proper for the strike to be called off, pending the determination of the suit.
But counsel to ASUU and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, said the union was currently meeting with stakeholders to ensure that the matter was resolved and appealed to the government to cooperate with the union to resolve the issue.
ASUU and the Muhammadu Buhari-led government have been at loggerheads over the 2009 agreement that was revisited in the 2013.
The Union embarked on strike on February 14, 2022.
BREAKING: Court Dismisses NANS’ Suit Against ASUU, FG
The National Industrial Court, NIC, sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday, struck out a suit the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, filed to compel the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and the Federal Government to call off the ongoing strike action.
Justice Polycarp Hamman terminated further proceedings in the matter, after it was withdrawn by factional President of NANS, Umar Faruk Lawal.
Lawal had told the court that he filed the suit marked NICN/ABJ/273/2022, for himself and on behalf of NANS.
A side from ASUU which was cited as the 1st Respondent, the Minister of Education and the Attorney-General of the Federation were listed as 2nd and 3rd Respondents, respectively.
When the matter came up on Tuesday, Lawal, notified the court that he filed a motion for discontinuance.
He premised his decision to withdraw the suit on account of the challenge by the student body which contested his standing and denied that he is the President of NANS as he had deposed to.
Though the other two Respondents were not represented, however, counsel to ASUU, Marshal Abubakar, informed the court that he was not opposed to Lawal’s application to withdraw the suit.
Consequently, Justice Hamman struck out the matter.
It will be recalled that two NANS presidential candidates had claimed victory at an election the students’ body conducted recently.
While Lawal who is of the Department of Library and Information Science of the Bayero University, Kano, insisted that he won the election, the NANS Convention Planning Committee declared Usman Barambu as the President-elect of the association.
ASUU had since gone before the Court of Appeal in Abuja to set aside the NIC judgement that ordered it to call off its over seven-month old strike action.
The union, in a 14-ground of appeal, also applied for a stay of execution of the judgement.
The NIC had in the judgement that was delivered on September 21, ordered the striking varsity lecturers to return to the classroom, pending the determination of a suit the Federal Government filed to query the legality of their strike action.
The interim injunction directing ASUU members to resume work followed an application FG filed through its lawyer, Mr. James Igwe.
Justice Hamman held that the order was both in national interest and for the sake of undergraduates in the country that have been at home since February 14.
He held that the strike action was detrimental to public university students that cannot afford to attend private tertiary institutions.
“The balance of convenience tilts in favour of the applicant.
“I hold that this application is meritorious and this application is granted”, Justice Hamman ruled.
However, ASUU, in its appeal, maintained that Justice Hamman “erred in law and occasioned a miscarriage of justice when he decided to hear and determine the Respondents’ motion for interlocutory injunction when he knew or ought to have known that the substantive suit was not initiated by due process of law”.
It argued that the mandatory steps and procedure stipulated in Part 1 of the Trade Dispute Act, TDA, was not followed by FG.
More so, ASUU averred that the trial judge acted utra vires and misdirected himself when he unlawfully assumed jurisdiction to entertain the matter, adding that what was granted as an interlocutory order was the same relief FG sought in its substantive suit.
BREAKING: Double Fingerprints, Five Other New JAMB Guidelines
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board has provided new guidelines to ensure seamless conduct of future operational processes, including the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination.
The board made this known in its Weekly Bulletin of the Office of the Registrar on Monday in Abuja.
In this piece, The PUNCH highlights six new guidelines, including the introduction of double fingerprints, exemption candidates, and others.
As a requirement for printing registration slips, a candidate must use at least two fingers and any of the two fingers taken would be used for biometric verification before entering the examination hall on the day of the examination.
The two verifiable fingers of all candidates must be consecutively indicated on the candidates’ registration and examination slips.
The JAMB Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, has warned that some cybercafes and tutorial centres had been prohibited from participating in any of the board’s exercises.
Oloyede said that no CBT centre would be allowed to collaborate with the prohibited group, adding that any violation of the directive, whether in part or whole, would lead to the revocation of the licence of the erring CBT centre.
CBT centre accreditation
No new Computer-Based Test centre would be accredited without meeting the new requirements.
To this end, new CBT centres must use laptop computer systems as clients, zero thin-clients or Remote Desktop Protocol would no longer be accepted.
No CBT centre must install any clients with less than 2 gigabyte RAM.
It is now mandatory that the Autobot system should be used for the accreditation of CBT centres; there should be three Autobot tests: Pre-accreditation during Mock – UTME and the dummy examination.
The registrar also said that biometrics of all accredited CBT centre registration officers would be captured ahead of the exercise.
This, he explained, was because the board as a proactive agency must move with the tide to stay ahead of the machinations of cheats and safeguard the integrity of the system.
At the registration point, candidates with bad fingerprints would be scheduled for the examination as ‘Exemption Candidates’.
Their registration slips would be colour-coded and visually different from those for other candidates.
Such candidates would sit their examination in Abuja on the last date of the national examination calendar and their results would not be released until after being subjected to proper scrutiny.
Separation of Direct Entry/UTME
To further consolidate its data collection efforts, the board would consider separating UTME registration from that of Direct Entry beginning from 2023.
And to further condone illegal admissions and printing of indemnity forms, all candidates’ registrations, including UTME, DE and others, must be completed with fingerprint authentication.
ASUU Strike: Why FG Changed Decision To Reopen Universities
More facts have emerged on why the Federal Government quickly reversed its order to the various university management to reopen public universities amid the ongoing strike by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.
Recall that the Federal Government had earlier ordered Vice-Chancellors to re-open schools.
It had asked the Vice-Chancellors of universities “to ensure that the striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) resume and commence lectures immediately.”
However, it later issued another directive withdrawing its earlier circular.
An online medium stated that the opinion leaders and other stakeholders interested in resolving the face-off between the ASUU and the government mounted pressure on government requesting that the circular, earlier sent to mandate the reopening of the universities, be withdrawn.
A senior official in the Ministry of Education, who didn’t want his name mentioned, disclosed that “the circular was withdrawn to allow for more negotiation between government and the ASUU following the ongoing intervention by the Speaker of the House of Representatives”.
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