The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, has told the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the federal government to explore out-of-court settlement in handling the impasse between them.
The court advised the parties yesterday, while hearing the appeal by ASUU over the September 21 judgement of the National Industrial Court, which ordered the university lecturers to suspend their strike action. ASUU has been on strike since February 14.
The Appellate Court suggested 24 hours for the two parties to have a rethink, sit down and come out with a resolution that would make Nigerians happy.
Justice Georgewill Biobele Abraham threw the challenge when the Federal Government and ASUU appeared before it for a hearing in the appeal instituted by ASUU against the judgement of the National Industrial Court.
Specifically, Justice Georgewill tasked counsel to the Federal Government, Mr James Igwe SAN and that of ASUU, Mr Femi Falana SAN to first sit down as lawyers, take patriotic positions and convey the position to their clients.
“There is time for everything, time for war and time for peace. As Ministers in the temple of justice, we want to see the two of you as Senior Lawyers to encourage and explore amicable settlement of this dispute,” Justice Georgewill said.
“In fact, we expect to return to this court on Thursday with good news that the dispute has been thrashed out and all the appreciation of Nigerians will go to you.
“So, talk to your clients to take the interest of the nation into consideration for the sake of our children. As you leave here, go and sit down and talk and resolve the matter,” he said.
In August, the union declared a “total and indefinite” extension of its industrial action, noting that the government has failed to meet its demands satisfactorily. The academics seek improved welfare, revitalisation of public universities and academic autonomy among other demands.
One bone of contention for academics is the non-payment of university revitalisation funds, which amounts to about N1.1 trillion.
But the Federal Government has said it doesn’t have the money to pay such an amount, citing low oil prices during the Muhammadu Buhari administration.