Dispute: NUT Challenges Factional Group On Purported Supreme Court Rulings

… Says It’s Ready To Welcome Them Back

By Appolos Christian 

The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), has challenged a factional body, the Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS) to present the purported Supreme Court rulling that empowers it to exisit as a trade union in Nigeria to the general public.

According to NUT, the group  under the aegis of ASUSS are its members who felt dissatisfied years back after election contest and decided to form a new union. 

NUT also said that ASUSS as a breakaway faction was only seeking relevance hence cannot stand as registrable trade union, because it is unconstitutional for two unions with common interest to exist side by side. 

The NUT National President, Nasir Idris, while addressing a press conference on Thursday in Abuja to state the facts in contention, faulted ASUSS for  misinterpreting and misinforming Nigerians of a judgement delivered by the Supreme Court on January 2021. 

According to NUT, it was high time it unequivocally lay bare and throw light on the deliberate mischief, misinterpretation and falsehood being circulated that the Supreme Court on the 15th January 2021 delivered judgement granting Secondary School Teachers a new Trade Union known as Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools ASUSS. 

NUT also alleged that the then Minister of Labour and Productivity in 2008 made a unilateral move to register ASUSS as a trade union contrary to the provisions of the Trade Union Act 2004.

The umbrella teachers Union also carpeted ASUSS led by Samuel Omaji of making hollow, deceptive and false claim to have obtained judgement to unionize secondary school teachers, describing it as reckless, complete falsehood and extraneous to the decisions of the Supreme Court, as well as other relevant Labour laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Kelvin Nwankwo, National Deputy President of NUT who briefed on behalf of Nasir Idris, said ASUSS claim was rather strange and unfounded. 

“To the best of our knowledge, the subject matter on appeal is ASUSS vs NUT, which is before the Supreme Court bothering on the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to grant the restraining order sought by the Nigeria Union of Teachers against the Hon. Minister of Labour and Productivity to unilaterally register a Trade Union contrary to the provisions of the Trade Union Act. 

“In accordance with the decision of the Supreme Court, the great NUT is awaiting the transmission of the matter to the Court of Appeal for the rehearing on jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, “he stated. 

While buttressing the position of the union, Nwankwo said the provision of the Third Schedule of the Trade Unions Act provides that NUT shall exercise jurisdiction over: “Teachers employed in educational institutions of all types, but excluding Universities, Polytechnics, Colleges of Education and other tertiary institutions.” as severally established by the Registrar of Trade Unions, that Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) is the body that is statutorily registered to organize teachers in primary and secondary schools in Nigeria.  “With this provision of the Trade Union Act we call on all teachers of secondary schools in Nigeria to disregard the baseless claim by ASUSS as no such matter of membership of Secondary School Teachers was before the Supreme court and the Status of NUT in unionizing teachers of primary and secondary schools remains sacrosanct and backed by the Jurisdictional Scope of trade unions as contained in the Trade Union Act, “he noted.

On the possibility of resolving the impasse out of Court, Nwankwo said they have extended an olive branch to ASUSS to reunite, irrespective of their differences.  

”  We are ready to welcome the breakaway faction back, remember the story of the prodigal son, we have been giving them the olive branch, the more the merrier, in negotiating any welfare for our members, we stand to gain more if we are more in number, we want them back. 

“In 2008, the then Minister of Labour and Productivity was the one who said ASUSS can be registered as a trade union, but we brought his attention to it that it is unconstitutional, that is why we went to court to get a restraining order. There are some people who are tacitly supporting ASUSS because of what they stand to benefit, there are processes of becoming a trade union which they have not fulfilled, “NUT reiterated. 

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