The Federal Government notified the National Industrial Court on Wednesday of its decision to formally respond to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) request for arbitration by May 11.
ASUU sued the Minister of Labour and Employment as well as the Registrar of Trade Unions (RTU).
The lawsuit challenges the Federal Government’s alleged threat to revoke ASUU’s certificate of registration for failing to submit annual financial returns and audited accounts for nearly ten years.
During Tuesday’s sitting, ASUU’s counsel, Mr Marshal Abubakar, who was holding the brief of Mr Femi Falana SAN, informed the court that he had filed a motion for the matter to be referred to the court’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Centre.
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In response, Mr J.U.K Igwe, SAN stated that he had not been served with any such application.
He added that, in addition to the application, he would need to consult with his clients to determine their decision on the referral to ADR.
As a result, the judge, Justice Benedict Kanyip, adjourned the case until Wednesday.
However, when the case was heard on Wednesday, Igwe informed the court that he had waited since Tuesday but had not received ASUU’s application until just before the hearing on Wednesday.
As a result, he requested an adjournment so that he could respond formally to ASUU’s request for mediation at the ADR.
The counsel went on to say that he needed to file other applications after seeing ASUU’s because agreeing to go to ADR would entail delving into legal jargon.
The matter was adjourned until Wednesday, according to Justice Kanyip, because Igwe stated that he would consult with his clients rather than respond formally to ASUU’s application.
The judge also stated that he could refer the parties to ADR on his own because the Centre cannot compel anyone to agree or accept mediated issues.
When Abubakar did not object to Igwe’s request for an adjournment to respond, the court ruled as follows:
“Last night, the defendants’ counsel asked for an adjournment so that he could consult with his clients.”
“The adjournment was requested not to respond formally to the motion for mediation, but to consult.”
” I’m surprised by this new development, but I’m not going to stop you.”
“In the circumstances,” the judge ruled, “the case is adjourned until May 11 in Abuja for hearing of motion for arbitration.”