On Thursday, February 11, 2021, the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) addressed a press conference at its Teachers’ House National Headquarters, Airport Road, Lugbe, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Comrade (Sir) K. A. Nwankwo, NUT’s Deputy National President, read out a prepared briefing, entitled “NUT VS ASUSS: PUTTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT,” in which the NUT national leadership clarified an orchestrated misinformation of a recent judgment by the Supreme Court. The press briefing in Abuja, the NUT said, is part of the union’s larger national engagement to convey the facts of the 13-year litigation and assure members of the union and the public that the NUT remains strong and unified.
Below is the full text of the press briefing:
THE National leadership of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) unequivocally lay bare and throw light on the deliberate mischief, misinterpretation and falsehood being circulated on various print and electronic media and blog platforms: that the Supreme Court on the 15th January, 2021 delivered judgment granting Secondary School Teachers a new Trade Union known as Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS); which is rather strange and unfounded. May we promptly state that ASUSS is not registrable as a Trade Union.
To the best of our knowledge the subject matter on appeal is ASUSS vs NUT, which was 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 (NUT) against the Hon. Minister of Labour and Productivity to unilaterally register a Trade Union contrary to the provisions of Ss. 3(2), 5 (4) of the Trade Union Act CAP. T14 LFN 2004.
The contest of the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to hear the Suit of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) vs Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS) was upheld by the Federal High Court Abuja, which was appealed by the ASUSS to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court respectively. The learned Lords of the Supreme Court per His Lordship Chima Centus Nweze, JSC in his lead Judgment held:
“Under the doctrine of stare decisis, we are bound by these decisions. It follows therefore, that in the instant case, where His Lordship E. Ekanem, JCA who did not participate in the hearing of the appeal, rendered a judgment thereon, the lower court, in so far as the panel that delivered the judgment was different from the panel that heard the appeal, was incompetent. The appeal is therefore allowed. The judgment delivered on 9/6/2014 is a nullity and must be and is hereby set aside. Appeal No. CA/A/256/09 shall be remitted to the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, to be heard by a different panel of that court.
“I also agree that the resolution of issue 1 is conclusive of the appeal. There is no need to consider issue 2. The parties shall bear their respective cost in the appeal.”
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.
The group of secondary school teachers led by Mr. Samuel Omaji making a hollow, deceptive and false claim to have obtained judgment to unionize secondary school teachers is reckless, complete falsehood and extraneous to the decisions of the Supreme Court, as well as and other relevant Labour Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
RELATED STORY: NUT vs. ASUSS: What The Supreme Court Said
Our numerous correspondences from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity herein clearly states: in the letter ref No. ML.ITU/128/1/200 on 5th October, 2007 addressed to ASUSS, in that letter, the Registrar of Trade Unions said inter alia:
“I refer to your letter dated 13th August 2005, on the above subject and to inform you that your association is not registrable as a trade union in view of Section 5(4) and 3(2) of the Trade Union Act Cap 437 of LFN 1990.”
Also in August 2009, the Honourable Minister of Labour and Productivity in a letter ref No: ML.IB/19.T.31 of August, 2009 where the Hon. Minister said:
“Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS) is not a registered trade Union and cannot unionize secondary school teachers”
As a law abiding organization we are in total alignment with the position of the Honourable Minister of Labour and Productivity in a letter ref No. ML. IB/147/5.1/188 dated 18th May 2012, issued to override the earlier internal memo of 19th May, 2008 the ASUSS was claiming, the Honourable Minister granted:
“A Trade Union or Association which has not been finally registered and certificated by the Registrar of Trade Union even though it might have concluded most of the process required to obtain registration hold no claim of being a Union.”
The extant provision of the Third Schedule Part A No. 26 of the Trade Unions Act CAP.T.14 LFN 2004 which provides: Nigeria Union of Teachers 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 CAP T.14 LFN 2004 cited above.
The NUT will clock ninety (90) years of Trade Union practice by July 2021. The leaders in the spirit of leadership have been mutually rotating her apex leadership’s position between the Secondary and Primary Schools teachers. This notwithstanding, record has it that out of fifteen (15) presidents of our great Union, only two had been selected from the Primary School arm, while the others were drawn from Secondary Schools arm. The NUT is enjoying a robust spirit of comradeship where we peruse the welfare of our members and better conditions of service, but not which arm of the teaching industry do you belong. The NUT has no founder and no joiner, we have one teaching profession to build and protect little wonder in 1993 and teachers in Nigeria embarked on a nationwide protracted strike to press home the establishment of the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), to regulate our noble teaching profession for all the Nigerian teachers.
The great NUT for over a decade had achieved the 27.5% Teachers Peculiar Allowances for teachers in Nigeria, which the teachers of Nigeria have been enjoying including the so called members of ASUSS, who have continued to reap where they did not sow. So far the NUT is contemplating putting to a stop the parasitic roles of the so called ASUSS who continue to enjoy the negotiated benefits of the NUT even when they endlessly sabotage our efforts in achieving them, what a paradox?
The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) will by no means be distracted from her several pursuits of the actualization of all the welfare needs of our members in the Primary and Secondary Schools in Nigeria namely: Sixty Five (65) years retirement or forty (40) years of service age for teachers, Teachers Professional Salary Structure, Rural Posting Allowances, Subject Special Allowances, National Housing Scheme for teachers, etc. in addition to the Annual Presidential Teachers Award that has formed part of annual World Teachers Day program.
We urge all well-meaning teachers of secondary schools in Nigeria to remain law abiding and cooperate with the NUT for the prosperity of the teaching profession, education in Nigeria and the current provision of the Trade Union Act and Labour Laws. Therefore, we urge all well-meaning diligent and hardworking Secondary School Teachers, not to fall prey to the media stunts and ill-fated propaganda employed by the drowning leaders of the self-acclaimed ASUSS aimed at deceiving unsuspecting Secondary School Teachers, into believing that ASUSS is competent to unionize Secondary School teachers when they are not.
We shall not fail in our obligations of keeping our dear and well-meaning teachers abreast of further development, as we proceed with the litigation. The matter is far from being over, as it remains subjudice. No matter how fast and far that the falsehood of ASUSS might have gone, the truth must catch up with it. The facts and the laws of our land are on the side of our great Union the NUT. Our strength lies in truth and justice to the teachers and qualitative service to the children of Nigeria, whom we have sworn to nurture and teach to become functional, well-meaning and good Nigeria and global citizens.
Solidarity For Ever!