FG reacts to ASUU’s arbitration
By Our Correspondent
The Federal Government informed the National Industrial Court on Wednesday of its decision to formally react to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)’s request for arbitration by May 11.
ASUU filed the suit against the Minister of Labour and Employment and the Registrar of Trade Unions (RTU).
The suit is challenging an alleged threat by the Federal Government to withdraw ASUU’s certificate of registration for not rendering annual financial returns and audited accounts for almost 10 years.
During the sitting of Tuesday, ASUU’s counsel, Mr. Marshal Abubakar, holding the brief of Mr. Femi Falana SAN, informed the court that he filed a motion for the matter to be referred to the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Center of the court.
Mr. J.U.K. Igwe, SAN, in response, said that he had not been served any application to that effect.
He added that aside from the application, he would need to consult with his clients to know their decision concerning the referral to ADR.
The judge, Justice Benedict Kanyip, therefore adjourned the matter until Wednesday.
When the matter came up on Wednesday, however, Igwe informed the court that he waited until Tuesday but never got ASUU’s application until shortly before Wednesday’s proceeding.
He therefore sought an adjournment to enable him to react formally to the application by ASUU asking for mediation at the ADR.
The counsel further stated that he needed to also file other applications, having seen ASUU’s, as agreeing to go to the ADR would entail delving into legal technicalities.
Justice Kanyip said that the matter was adjourned until Wednesday because Igwe said he was going to consult with his clients and not formally react to ASUU’s application.
In addition, the judge stated that he could refer the parties on his own to ADR as the Center cannot compel anyone to agree or accept issues mediated upon.
When Abubakar did not object to Igwe’s application for adjournment to react to their request, the court ruled thus:
“The defendants counsel yesterday prayed for an adjournment to enable him to consult with his clients.
“The adjournment was sought not to react formally to the motion for mediation but for consultation.
“I am surprised by this new development, but I will not stop you.
“In the circumstances, the case is adjourned until May 11 in Abuja for the hearing of the motion for arbitration”, the judge ruled.