ASUU strike: Why federal government can’t sack lecturer, powerful lawyer reveals

  • Emerging details about the intricacies involved in the court ruling that ordered ASUU to resume have been explained
  • According to Adoyi Abakpa, a constitutional lawyer of repute, said the federal government cannot sack lecturers
  • He also stated that a court ruling is meant to be obeyed first even before seeking redress at the appellate court

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Rivers, Port Harcourt Popular Port Harcourt and constitutional lawyer, Adoyi Abakpa, has given a legal interpretation to the court orders asking the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, to return to class.

An order of the court following a suit instituted by the federal government had asked ASUU to go back to class. The national industrial court of Nigeria (NICN) had given the order on September 28.

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ASUU, Federal Government
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike is in its 8th month since it was declared on 14th February. Photo: Academic Staff Union of Universities
Source: Facebook

ASUU has been on strike since February 14 to protest the federal government’s refusal to fulfill its part of the agreement reached several years ago.

But despite the order asking ASUU to call off the strike, universities have remained shut even as ASUU has been given the freedom by the court to appeal the case, with the condition that they must call off the ongoing strike in obedience to an industrial court order. An order of the Appeal court gave the new ruling.

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Lecturers can’t be compelled – Abakpa

Reacting to the development Abakpa said even though ASUU has to obey the judgment as every order of the court whether right or wrong is meant to be obeyed, the union cannot be compelled to call off the strike as doing so will be against their fundamental rights.

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He said:

“Considering the constitutionality of compelling ASUU to go on strike by court order, every order of the court is meant to be obeyed. That’s a rule. No matter how wrong the judgment or order seems to appear.”

Abakpa said the only way to stand against such a judgment is by going through the due process of an appeal. He said that unless that is done, the order should be obeyed.

According to him:

“The only way for anyone to avoid the effect of that judgment or order is by following due process and the due process, in this case, is by filing a stay of execution.

You file a notice of appeal that you are not satisfied with the judgment, then you file a motion for stay of execution. Once that is done, the status quo remains, the strike continues, and you can’t compel them.

There is a constitutional provision that says no one, no citizen, no person can be compelled to do work, or go to work, or resume work, or perform any duty in form of employment against his wish. That’s a constitutional provision.

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The order court cannot compel anyone to go to work. He has the right to withdraw his services. And that is where the right to go on strike is hinged under the constitution. That’s what ASUU is exercising.”

Why government can’t sack lecturers

Explaining why the lecturers can’t be sacked under any circumstances, Abakpa said:

“They are exercising a constitutional right and a fundamental right for that matter because it’s enshrined under chapter 4 which is sacrosanct. Every other law is subject to that provision. So it’s not for any judge to say go back to work. How are you going to enforce it? You can’t enforce it.

If you dismiss anybody on that basis, the person will head to court and make claims under the right to embark on strike. There are judgments that cannot stand the test of time on appeal.

These are political judgments as the federal government is trying to save its face. Is the government even supposed to go to court? Don’t they have the resources to end the strike?”

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BREAKING: Appeal court gives final verdict on ASUU strike

Recall that ASUU has been on strike for over 8 months and all entreaties to end the industrial action have hit the rocks.

The federal government has constantly engaged the union, promising to fulfill its part of the promises once ASUU calls off its strike.

But universities have remained shut despite several meetings. This has resulted in a legal tussle between the union and the government.

ASUU says indefinite strike will commence, gives details

Earlier, ASUU said it is tired of having fruitless meetings with the federal government over its demands.

The union said it has, therefore, decided to proceed on an indefinite strike until the governments meets its demands.

The lecturers said the government should first of all act on the promises it has already made if it ever wants the union to listen.


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