By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja
The National Industrial Court, NIC, sitting in Abuja, on Friday, refused the prayer of the federal government to direct the striking academic staff of public universities to resume classes, pending the determination of a Federal government suit challenging the 7-month old strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
At the resumed sitting, counsel to the government, James Ikwe SAN, requested the court to direct ASUU to resume work pending the determination of the suit.
However, the defendant’s counsel, Femi Falana, SAN, opposed the request, stating that it would amount to determining the substantive suit.
Justice Justice P. l. Hammam who agreed with Femi Falana said it was the issue for determination and therefore could not be resolved before hearing .
Meanwhile the application brought by SERAP seeking to be joined as an interested party was not heard as the counsel filed another application which was only served yesterday on the party.
SERAP’s lawyer prayed the court to withdraw the earlier application and substitute the same with the current one. The court subsequently struck out the earlier application.
The lawyer also argued that for the sake of justice his application should be heard before entertaining other matters related to the suit.
On his part counsel for the defendant, Falana, agreed that in the interest of justice and clarity, it would be proper to hear the application brought by SERAP pertaining the same matter before the determination of other issues.
He, however, added that the defendant (ASUU) is making moves to meet with stakeholders to ensure that the matter is resolved and asked for adjournment to Friday for completion of the process of filing that has commenced.
In response, counsel to the government James Igwe, SAN, asked the court to give the substantive suit brought before the court accelerated hearing because of the urgency of the matter to enable the students resume in schools.
He also contended that the SERAP application is not ripe for hearing because it has not been served to him.
The court in its ruling said the SERAP’s application is not yet ripe for hearing since it was only served yesterday to party through the Ministry of Justice.
The judge consequently adjourned the suit to Monday, September, 19 for hearing.