The Joint Action Committee of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, Academic Staff Union of Universities and Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, have described the suspension of all union activities in state institutions of higher learning by the Edo State Government as a lawless and undemocratic act.
The PUNCH reported that the state government took the decision on Wednesday following protest by students of Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma, over the lingering strike by ASUU and other unions in the institution.
Speaking to The PUNCH in an interview, SSANU’s National President, Mr Ibrahim Mohammed, said it was not within the powers of any state government to proscribe the unions’ activities.
Mohammed said, “As far as we are concerned, this is an action that is dead on arrival, it is null and void. Maybe the governor was not properly briefed that there is a need for a high-level discussion on this matter.
“Our members cannot just resume like that because it’s a national action. These actions are not in tandem with our democratic culture. We are in a democracy, not a military era.”
The National Vice-President, SSANU, Dr Abdussobur Salaam, while condemning the suspension, stated, “It is an illegal act and a show of lawlessness by the Edo State Government. What they have done is not within the powers of any state government because the regulation of trade unions lies with the registrar of trade unions and not with any state government.
“Edo State has descended into an abyss of lawlessness and unconstitutionality by this attempt to strangulate the trade unions.”
The ASUU national president, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, said the governor had no right to proscribe the unions.
“There are many court judgments against the proscription of unions in tertiary institutions. The governor is misbehaving. We are going to challenge him in court. This same governor has removed the governing council and gone to the Senate that he has a law to set up a special intervention team to run a university, which is against any rule of university in the world.
“His idea is to see how he can destroy the university. Our members will fight for it. We will not allow him to destroy one of the first universities in the country,” Osodoke stated.
Similarly, the National President, ASUP, Anderson Ezeibe, said the purported ban, as reported, represented a very weak link in governance at the level of the government of Edo State.
Ezeibe said, “The truth is that the Edo State Government cannot infringe on the fundamental rights of workers to peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and right to unionise in their workplaces, as these rights are globally recognised, adopted through several regional instruments and subscribed to by Nigeria.
“The unions in question are also national unions, properly registered and operate within the boundaries of extant laws. The resort to industrial action by any of the unions in pursuit of their legitimate entitlements is also recognised by the law.”