ASUU May File Legal Action Against FG After Eight Months of Unpaid Salaries

ASUU May File Legal Action Against FG After Eight Months of Unpaid Salaries

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has vowed to fight until its members' withheld eight months salaries during the recently suspended strike are paid in full.

To this end, the lecturers might be considering instituting a suit against the Federal Government in a bid to compel it to release the withheld salaries to them. Professor Emmanuel Osodoke, president of ASUU, has expressed reservations about going to court over what he calls the slow dispensation of justice in Nigeria.

In a phone interview with the Nigerian Tribune, Osodoke stated that going to court in Nigeria is a waste of time, and that the union would continue to look for other ways to force the government to pay the outstanding salary arrears owed to his members. 

He stated: “When we get there, we will let you know, but legal issue in Nigeria is time-wasting. The next 10 years, you will be there, 20 years. So, when we get there we will let you know.”

However, some ASUU members who spoke with Tribune correspondent about the withheld salaries as a result of the Federal Government's non-work-no-pay policy insisted that legal action against the Federal Government could not be ruled out if the current option is not successful.

On February 14, 2022, ASUU began a protracted strike in response to the Federal Government's failure to meet the union's demands.

The strike was eventually called off on Friday, October 14, 2022, based on the orders of the appeal court, which directed the union to do so in accordance with an earlier ruling of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.

The Federal Government through the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, had invoked the policy of no-work-no-pay, and as such the lecturers were not paid for the months they spent on strike.

When the government counted the number of days they worked in October and decided to pay them on a "pro-rata basis," it became clear to the lecturers that the government was unwilling to pay them the outstanding salary arrears.

Speaking to the Nigerian Tribune on Sunday in Abuja, the zonal coordinator of ASUU, Abuja, Dr Salahu Lawal, insisted that the Federal Government pay the withheld salaries, saying the argument that lecturers would not be paid for work not done did not hold water. He lamented that the withheld salaries had harmed ASUU members, saying that lecturers couldn't teach on an empty stomach and give their all.

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Lawal said: “For now we are still dialoguing with the Federal Government to let them see the reasons why they must pay that money. They claimed that we cannot be paid for the work not done, but they have forgotten that in academic activities, there is no break.

“Wherever you stopped during the strike when you resume, you take off from that place because you cannot jump to another level. So, the work we left undone has to be done and because of that we deserve to be paid. There’s nothing they can do, government has to pay that money.” 

On the possibility of taking legal action, Lawal posited: “For now, ASUU is open to discussion and that is why we want government officials to see reasons as to why they should come back to the roundtable for us to be able to put it forward to them why they must pay that money.

“For now we are watching to see how far the approach we have adopted would take us, how it will yield fruit. Some well-meaning Nigerians have been talking sense into the government. We know that some people in government are not telling the truth to the authorities, maybe because they have one or two things they are hiding. If an individual has a score to settle with people, they should not allow that to affect the running of government.”

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