Court Dismisses ASUU Suit, Affirms CONUA, NAMDA As Trade Unions

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In a landmark ruling on Tuesday, the National Industrial Court (NIC) upheld the recognition of the Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA) and the National Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA) as trade unions.

Court Dismisses ASUU Suit, Affirms CONUA, NAMDA As Trade Unions  The ruling came as a result of a suit filed by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which dragged the former Minister of Labour and Employment, the Registrar of Trade Union, CONUA, and NAMDA as defendants before the NIC.

Presiding over the case, Justice Benedict Kanyip delivered a comprehensive judgement, emphasizing that the International Labour Organisation Act allows for the existence of multiple trade unions within employment sectors.

He refuted ASUU’s submission that Section 3(2) of the Trade Union Act rendered the first and second defendants ineligible to register CONUA and NAMDA, stating that the section does not promote the monopoly of trade unions but encourages the existence of diverse unions.

According to Justice Kanyip, the then Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, and the Registrar of Trade Union had acted within their rights when they registered NAMDA and CONUA, enabling them to co-exist alongside ASUU.

The court found that ASUU failed to provide substantial evidence to support its claim that CONUA and NAMDA were fully registered when the suit was filed on October 26, 2022. Justice Kanyip considered the evidence presented by ASUU as hearsay since the registration of CONUA and NAMDA had not been officially gazetted in accordance with Section 523 of the Trade Union Act at that time.

Furthermore, the court ruled that ASUU made an error in targeting NAMDA as the “National Association of Medical and Dental Academics” instead of the “Nigeria Association of Medical and Dental Academics.” The judge clarified that such a misnomer could be excused only when a person or entity possesses a jurisdictional name or has a verified existence, neither of which applied to NAMDA at the time of the suit.

In conclusion, Justice Kanyip held that NAMDA was not in existence when ASUU filed the suit, and therefore, all the reliefs sought by ASUU were denied. Consequently, the court dismissed ASUU’s suit against CONUA and NAMDA, solidifying their status as recognized trade unions within the Nigerian university system.

This ruling has significant implications for the academic sector, as it reaffirms the rights of academics to be represented by multiple trade unions, fostering healthy competition and diversity of voices in labour matters.

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