Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
Law students in the country have sued the Academic Staff Union of Universities and relevant ministries representing the Federal Government for the lingering ASUU strike which has led to the shutdown of various public universities since March 2020.
The students through the National President of the Law Students Association of Nigeria, Blessing Agbomhere, sought an award of N10bn as compensation for the violation of their rights to education for the period of about nine months that their public institutions of learning had been shut down.
The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1551/2012 was filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday.
Agbomhere, a final year Law student of Baze University, who is the sole plaintiff, said he was mandated by a resolution of the Senate of LAWSAN to institute the suit in a representative capacity.
Joined as defendants are, ASUU; ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi; the Minister of Education; the Minister of Labour and Employment; the Attorney General of Federation; and the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Agbomhere, through his lawyer, Luqman Momodu, urged the court to, among others declare that he representing other students of his association, was entitled to right to education by virtue of Section 18(1), (2) and (3) of the Nigerian Constitution and Article 17(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap, A9 LFN, 2004.
He also asked the court to, in affirming his right to education, declare that the 3rd – 6th defendants (the ministers and the Federal Government) “are under obligation to create the necessary, supportive and conducive environment to ensure that the plaintiff enjoys a crisis-free, peaceful and uninterrupted learning for the purpose of the promotion, enhancement and enjoyment of the Plaintiff’s right to education”.
He also sought a declaration that “the indefinite strike action embarked upon by the 1st and 2nd defendants (ASUU and its President) since March 2020 leading to the closure of government-owned universities which has detrimentally and negatively impacted on plaintiff’s learning and the smooth operation of academic calendar of universities is a brazen infraction of the plaintiff’s right to education”.
He also sought an order of mandatory injunction “compelling the 1st and 2nd defendants to call off the strike action and return back to the status quo ante bellum whilst negotiation for amicable resolution of the issues in contention or among the defendants are ongoing.”
While he sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining ASUU “from further declaring or embarking on indefinite and incessant strike actions which might ultimately interfere, alter, derogate and undermine the Plaintiff’s right to education”, he also sought an order directing “3rd – 6th defendants to re-open government-owned universities forthwith and to honour their contractual agreements with the 1st and 2nd defendants in the overall interest of the plaintiff”.
He sought “the sum of N10,000,000,000.00 (ten billion naira) only as general and exemplary damages for the loss of valuable time, opportunity, mental torture, psychological anguish and general deprivation which the plaintiff has suffered or likely to be exposed to on graduation.”