By Glory Abuh-Adejoh
The Federal government on Tuesday , accused the Academic staff Union of Universities (ASUU), not “showing good cause” in the pursuit of its suit before the National Industrial Court.
Mr J.U.K Igwe SAN, counsel to the Minister of Labour and Employment and Minister of Education who are the claimants in the suit made the accusation when ASUU’s counsel Mr Marshall Abubakar informed the court that he had filed processes at the court’s registry.
The processes according to Abubakar would be ready before the next adjourned date of Wednesday.
The presiding judge, Justice Benefict Kanyip in response stated that the court may still not take the matter on Wednesday if Igwe decided to reply to the issues in Abubakar’s processes.
The court enquired about the processes the counsel had filed in the registry.
He stated that he filed an application seekinh the leave of court for an extension of time and also an application for the court to refer the matter to its Arternative Dispute Resolution ( ADR)
The court however ruled that in order for a matter to be referred to ADR, parties must join issues which defence had not done due to its failure to file processes.
Igwe in objecting to the defence’s application said “my learned colleague has not shown good cause as stated by order 57, rule 4 (2) of the NICN rule.
” What he said he filed is not before the court, the rule states that an applicant must show good cause.
” The matter is slated for definite hearing and i urge the court to go on with the matter as what the counsel claimed to have filed ate based on speculations”, Igwe submitted.
Abubakar on his part cited order 7 rule 4 (1) (2) of NICN rule and urged the court to use its discretion to grant his application for extension of time, adding that his affidavit which had not been challenged had shown good. cause
Abubakar further submitted that the delay in filing his processes was as a result of the ruling of the court in the last adjourned date which necessitated series of consultations.
The court after listening to the submission of Abubakar reiterated that at the last adjourned date it was clearly stated that counsel must file and serve processes before Tuesday.
The judge also said that the application defence counsel said he filed were not exhibited as failure to do so showed lack of seriousness on the part of the counsel.
The court further stated that Abubakar’s submission that ” the sin of a counsel should not be visited on the litigant” was not applicable in the extant case.
The court equally pointed out that Abubakar was trying to buy time by his applications and in doing so had not shown capable and genuine reasons for the extension of time.
The court therefore ruled ” the application is hereby dismissed and ruling entered accordingly”
Abubakar in view of the ruling withdrew his application for the matter to be referred to the ADR.
The court ruled and struck out the said motion and also directed Igwe to move his application of the referral by the Minister of Labour and Employment dated Sept.8,2022 accompanied by notice of questions.
Also accompanied was a 21-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Mr Okechukwu Nwamba, a director of Legal Services, Ministry of Labour and Employment, supported by eight exhibits and a written address filed on Sept.12,2022.
Igwe proceeded to adopt the said processes, urged the court to adopt same as their argument and grant the declarations sought in the written address.
The court deemed the processes properly filed, adopted. and the judge said that in the interest of justice, he was giving Abubakar seven days to file and serve his written address, stated that the court would not entertain an application for extension of time to that effect.
The court equally directed Igwe to file his reply on point of law if any, within one day and adjourned the natter until May 11, for hearing.
The News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN) reports that two sister suits were equally adjourned until Wednesday and May 11 for hearing and adoption of final written addresses respectively.
NAN also report that the matter for adoption of final written addresses had on Tuesday came up by way of originating summon with ASUU as the claimant, Ministry of Labour and Employment and Registrar of Trade Union and Congress of University Academics (CONUA) as defendants.
The matter adjourned until Wednesday has ASUU seeking for the suit to be referred to ADR.
The court had on the last adjourned date of March 28 declared as valid the referral by the Minister of Labour and Employment referring the matter to the court over ASUU’s that lasted for eight months in 2022 and for interpretation and application of some Trade Dispute Act ( TDA) ( NAN)