According to report, the Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU) may sue the Federal Government over its members’ eight-monthly withholding salaries.
It was learned that ASUU will go to court if the government fails to pay members of the alternative union, the Congress of Nigerian University Academics.
Femi Falana, ASUU’s counsel, revealed this in an interview with Newsmen on Monday.
According to media reports, the FG is planning to refund the withheld salaries and allowances of academics under the auspices of CONUA through the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
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This was stated in a memo issued to Dr Niyi Sunmonu, President of CONUA, by Charles Wali, Director, Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
During ASUU’s eight-month strike, the government delayed salaries from Nigerian academics, according to media reports.
The government also registered CONUA as a trade union during the strike.
Sunmonu previously told Newsmen that members of his union did not go on strike and so should not have th
eir salaries withheld.
When asked for his reaction to the plan by the FG to pay CONUA members and leave out ASUU, Falana said, “We want them to pay the (CONUA) money. That is why we have not reacted.
“That (the payment) will form the legal basis for the government to now pay ASUU. We will now have the legal grounds to challenge them in a court of law. Through that, ASUU will be paid. They won’t have a choice. Let them go ahead.”
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Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, the National President of ASUU, could not be reached for comment at the time of reporting this article.
Meanwhile, the Joint Action Committee of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and Non-Academic Staff of Educational and Associated Institutions stated that there is no basis for the government to withhold members’ paychecks and pay CONUA.
SSANU’s National President, Mr Ibrahim Mohammed, who spoke on behalf of the two factions, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said, “The thought of dividing some groupings is not welcome.
We’re all working in the same building. Negotiations and renegotiations resulted in the strike. No union should be held accountable for strikes. We went on strike because the government failed to fulfil all agreements signed with them 12 years ago.
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“The same law says workers are free to go on strike if they go through due process, so there is no justification for not paying our members. Our members are not happy about our four months’ salaries being withheld. It was forced on us. One of the legal ways to protest was to go on strike. We have told the government to passionately look at the situation in the country. We have had our members suffer and they found it difficult to pay school fees to meet some family demands.
“Withholding the money dealt serious blows to the members of the university community, especially SSANU. We will not support any disparity. Government should pay money to all workers of the University unions. The government has no justification to withhold our money they should do the needful. ”
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