The Law Students Association of Nigeria (LAWSAN) has dragged the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) before the federal high court Abuja, over the incessant industrial actions embarked upon by the union.
NAN reports that in the suit, which was filed at the court on Friday, the association is seeking an order to compel ASUU to return to classroom as well as an order of perpetual injunction to restrain the union from embarking on further strikes.
The suit, which was filed by Blessing Agbomhere, president of the association, is also asking the court to compel ASUU to pay N10 billion compensation to Nigerian students.
This, the association said, is for allegedly infringing on the right of the students to education as guaranteed by section 18 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 17 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.
The association is further asking the court to order ASUU to pay damages to all Nigerian students for the psychological and emotional torture meted out to them as well as the loss of valuable time following the continuous strike.
Agbomwere, while addressing journalists in Abuja, said the suit was due to LAWSAN’S findings that ASUU members had been short-changing the federal government by teaching in more than one university.
He said its investigations also revealed that members of the union were engaging in consultancy services in oil companies and collecting multiple salaries at the detriment of the Nigerian students.
Apart from ASUU, the association also included Biodun Ogunyemi, the union’s president; Adamu Adamu, the minister for education; Chris Ngige, the minister for labour and employment; Abubakar Malami, the attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and the federal government as 2nd to 6th defendants in the suit.
The association is seeking among other reliefs, a declaration that the strike is a breach of the rights of members of the association to education.
“A declaration that the indefinite strike embarked upon by the 1st and 2nd defendants since March 2020, leading to the closure of government-owned universities, which has detrimentally and negatively impacted on plaintiff’s learning and the smooth operation of academic calendar of universities, is a brazen infraction of the plaintiff’s right to education,” the suit read.
“An order of mandatory injunction compelling the 1st and 2nd defendants to call off the strike and return to the status quo ante bellum whilst negotiation for amicable resolution of the issues in contention or among the defendants is ongoing.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st and 2nd defendants whether by themselves, servants, agents and/or privies from further declaring or embarking on indefinite and incessant strikes.”
The students are also seeking an order directing the 3rd to 6th defendants to re-open government-owned universities and to honour their contractual agreements with the 1st and 2nd defendants in the overall interest of the plaintiff.
“This is to serve as general and exemplary damages for the loss of valuable time, opportunity, mental torture, psychological anguish and general deprivation which the plaintiff has suffered or is likely to be exposed to on graduation,” the statement added.
Agbomwere, a final year law student of Baze University, said the development was sequel to a mandate given to him by LAWSAN’s senate to institute the suit in a representative capacity against the defendants.
No date has, however, been fixed to hear the suit.
ASUU has been on strike since March with no end in sight despite a series of meetings between the union and the federal government.