•Calls for termination of salaries of political office holders
By Opeyemi Babalola
Soohemha Agatha Aker, a final year student at the Benue State University, Markudi, has dragged President Muhammadu Buhari, the 36 state governors, and other political office holders to court over the failure of the government to meet the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Aker, in the fundamental right enforcement suit filed by her counsel, Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, SAN, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1684/2022, is asking the court to stop the salaries of the President, Chief of Staff to the President, Secretary to the Government, all senators and members of the House of Representative, Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, all heads of parastatals & extra ministerial bodies of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
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 a representative capacity for all the other Governors of the Thirty-Five States of the Federation).
The rests 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 a 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 a 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 applicant is also urging the court to suspend the salaries of all the vice-chancellors and the members of the senate of striking universities, as well as the salaries and allowance of the striking Universities and all the members of the ASUU.
The case was filed under sections 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 the 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 Respondents (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 was deposed to the fact that the ASUU strike has and continues to affect her adversely as her plans of graduating this academic year 2022 and applying for admission 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 on 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 about 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, the act of negligence to their constitutional responsibilities and amounts to a gross violation of the Applicants’ constitutional rights to a 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 the 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 segments 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.