Vice Chancellors have been directed to open all universities closed down due to the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
They have been instructed to allow students to resume lectures.
Director, Finance and Accounts of the National Universities Commission NUC), Sam Onazi, gave the directive on Monday in a letter he signed on behalf of the Executive Secretary of the commission, Professor Abubakar Rasheed.
The letter was addressed to all vice-chancellors; Pro-Chancellors and chairmen of governing councils of federal universities.
“Ensure that ASUU members immediately resume/commence lectures; restore the daily activities and routines of the various University campuses”, the letter partly reads.
This order is coming even as ASUU’s appeal is being heard by a court of appeal over an order given by the National Industrial Court to ASUU to call off its ongoing nationwide strike.
Lecturers in both federal and state universities began industrial dispute on February 14 demanding improvement in funding for universities, a review of salaries for lecturers, among other issues.
Both the Federal Government and ASUU had met severally to resolve the dispute but to no avail, and on this premise the Federal Government went to court to challenge the strike before the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
The government through its counsel, James Igwe, asked the court to restrain ASUU from taking further steps as regards the strike, pending the determination of the substantive suit.
The counsel to the Federal Government James Igwe on Wednesday asked the court to direct the striking lecturers resume work, pending the determination of the substantive suit before the court.
Igwe said the matter was not only urgent, but of a great national interest as millions of students have been at home for over seven months.
“Sections 47 of the Trade Dispute Act, TDA, gives your lordship the power to direct that no worker should continue to embark on strike pending when the applications are heard and determined,” Igwe argued.
Igwe said there was need for the matter to be expeditiously determined to enable university students to return to school, adding that failure to call off the strike would cause irreparable damage to not only the students but also to the nation.
According to him, since the dispute between FG and lectures was already before the court for adjudication, it would be proper and in the interest of justice for the strike to be suspended.
In his ruling, Justice Hamman held that the application was meritorious and deserved to be granted by the court
The court dismissed ASUU’s appeal, saying the strike was inimical 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.
The court, thereafter, issued an order, restraining ASUU, “whether by themselves, members, agents, privies or howsoever called, from taking further steps and doing any act in continuance of the strike action, pending the hearing and determination of the suit filed.”
ASUU had since filed 14 grounds of appeal to challenge the order.