The ongoing dispute between the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has taken another dimension with a suit by a final year law student, Soohemba Agatha Aker, asking the court to stop the salaries and allowances of President Mohammadu Buhari, the 36 state governors and of all political office holders in the country pending the immediate resolution and end of the strike.
The applicant, a student of Benue State University, Markudi, is seeking similar order against the Chief of Staff to the President, Secretary to the Government, all senators and members of House of Representative, all ministers, all the permanent secretaries, all heads of parastatals & extra ministerial bodies of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, all the vice chancellors and the members of senate of striking universities, as well as the salaries and allowance of of said striking Universities and all the members of the ASUU.
In the fundamental right enforcement suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1684/2022, the applicant who said she is currently affected by the ongoing strike, filed the action for herself on behalf of all students of public tertiary institutions currently affected by the nationwide ASUU strike.
In the suit filed by his counsel, Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, SAN, the applicant listed the respondents to include the Federal Government of Nigeria, Registered Trustees of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, President of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Governor of Abia State (also sued in his own official capacity and in representative capacity for all the other Governors of the Thirty-Five States of the Federation).
The rest are Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission(RMAFC); Federation of Account Allocation Committee (FAAC); Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF); the Attorney General of Abia State (also sued in representative capacity for all the other Hon Attorney-Generals of the Thirty-Five States of the Federation); the Vice Chancellor (VC) of the University of Abuja (also sued in representative capacity for all the other Vice Chancellors and the Members of the Senate of both Federal and State Universities currently participating on the ongoing ASUU Strike) and Umar Faruk (President, National Association of Nigerian Students, (NANS).
The was filed pursuant to section 46(1), (2) and (3) of the 1999 constitution and Article 17(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Chapter A9 (Charter 10 LFN 1990) No. 2 of 1983.
The applicant is equally seeking an order of mandamus compelling the defendants including members of Senate of the striking universities to return to the 1st Respondent their monthly salaries, allowances, and other benefits received individually or collectively from the day the industrial action of the 2nd Respondent commenced till date, pending the hearing and determination of the originating motion.
She further asked for an order of interlocutory injunction suspending the activities of 6th and 7th Respondent (RMAFC and FAAC) including payment of the monthly allocation funds to the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th & 10th Respondents pending the hearing and determination of the Applicant’s Suit.
In a supporting affidavit, she deposed to the fact that the ASUU strike has and continue to affect her adversely as her plans of graduating this academic year 2022 and to apply for admissions into the Nigerian Law School have been thwarted.
That her tuition fees paid for this academic year will go in vain as the academic year is almost lost if nothing is done.
She stated further that her dreams of becoming a law graduate and a future lawyer are at the verge of collapsing as her sponsor had made it clear that this year was the last year to sponsor her in school.
That her mates who are children of top politicians are currently taking their studies uninterrupted in private universities in the country or abroad.
That some of her mates have gotten pregnant due to boredom and idleness.
That she is going through severe mental stress and trauma each passing day as the strike prolongs with no concrete action taken by the stakeholders concerned towards ending it.
She therefore asked the court to declare that refusal, failure or neglect of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th and 11th Respondents to put an end to the lingering industrial action (strike) of the members of the 2nd Respondent Union is wrongful, gross failure of duty to the future of Nigeria, act of negligence to their constitutional responsibilities and amounts to a gross violation of the Applicants’ constitutional rights to meaningful life, association, education and developed capacity to own functional intellectual cum physical property.
A declaration that refusal, failure or neglect of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th and 11th Respondents to put an end to the lingering industrial action (strike) of the members of the 2nd Respondent Union (most of whose children are abroad attending the best universities) is a function of act of discrimination in the affording of educational opportunities to their children abroad and the neglected Applicant and teeming types all over the country.
An order compelling the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th and 11th Respondents to immediately and forthwith inaugurate a Save the Future Think-Tank Committee of all parties herein, or their representatives and other key stakeholders from all tiers of government and segment of the Nigerian societies as to map out immediate steps as to end the ongoing strike by 2nd Respondent and ensure uninterrupted academic calendar in all Nigerian tertiary institutions even in times of any of the industrial disputes in the sector.