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[JUST IN] NICN ruling: ASUU not in contempt of court — Falana

“Trial and appellate courts have always had jurisdiction to grant a stay of execution of judgment pending appeal. The exercise of the right to apply for a stay of execution by an unsuccessful litigant pending his appeal has not been treated as disobedience to the judgment he is appealing against.”

HUMAN rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, (SAN), yesterday, faulted the claim by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige, that the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, disobeyed the order of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, NICN, Abuja, by not asking its members to resume duties after the court’s recent ruling in the matter between the union and the Federal Government.

In a statement, Falana noted that the minister got it wrong as far as the issue is concerned.

The statement reads: “We wish to point out to the minister that ASUU is a law-abiding organisation whose activities are conducted within the ambit of the rule of law.

“Although the minister rushed to the National Industrial Court without referring the trade dispute between ASUU and the Federal Government to the Industrial Arbitration Panel and thereby abused the process of the court. The minister is unaware that the National Industrial Court lacks the jurisdictional competence to intervene in the resolution of a trade dispute that has not been determined by the Industrial Arbitration Panel.

“However, contrary to the claim of the minister that ASUU has not filed an appeal, the application for the leave of the Court of Appeal to appeal against the interlocutory order of injunction is deemed to be an appeal under the Rules of the Court of Appeal.

“The application is equally accompanied by a motion for stay of execution of the said order. To that extent, the members of the ASUU cannot be accused of engaging in contempt of the order of the National Industrial Court in so far as they are seeking to appeal and stay the execution of the said order.

“Trial and appellate courts have always had jurisdiction to grant a stay of execution of judgment pending appeal. The exercise of the right to apply for a stay of execution by an unsuccessful litigant pending his appeal has not been treated as disobedience to the judgment he is appealing against.”

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