Human rights attorney Femi Falana claimed that the Federal Gvernment (FG) lacks the legal authority to ban the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for its ongoing strike.
Falana made this statement in response to rumours that the FG intended to sanction ASUU for failing to call off the strike.
The government’s inability to fully meet the union’s requests is the cause of the strike. The industrial action, which got underway on February 16, 2022, is now approaching its seventh month.
There have been rumours that the government wants to outlaw the union; although no official announcement has been made to that effect.
Specifically, the human rights attorney claimed in a statement on Sunday, August 28, 2022; that Article 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement Act); as well as Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution both safeguard ASUU’s rights.
Equally important, Falana highlighted Convention No. 87 of the International Labor Organization; which prohibits the FG from outlawing or suspending trade unions and protects the right to organise.
He said Nigeria “has ratified the ILO Convention…Parties to the convention are obligated to ensure the right of both employers and employees to join an organisation of their choice; free from any influence of authorities which belong to the core principles of the ILO.”
He added that to ban AUSS; the FG would have to amend the fundamental right of citizens to freedom of association enshrined in the constitution.
“It is a special amendment, which requires the resolution of four-fifths of members of the National Assembly; approved by a two-thirds majority of members of not less than 24 Houses of Assembly.
“In addition, the federal government will withdraw its ratification of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights; the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention No 87 of the International Labour Organisation.”
Meanwhile, Falana has advised the FG not to heed the advice of anti-democratic forces on the ASUU stand-off. Also, he called on those attacking ASUU to instead call the FG to order.
“The anti-democratic forces urging the Buhari administration to ban ASUU should be made to realise that a democratic government lacks the competence to abrogate the fundamental rights of citizens outside the ambit of the 1999 constitution.
“Those…berating ASUU for alleged recalcitrance should advise the federal government to accord priorities to the funding of tertiary education.”