It’s another victory for the Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools, ASUSS as the Court Appeal sitting in Makurdi, the Benue State Capital dismissed the case of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, challenging the rights of teachers to belong to the professional bodies of their choices.
The Appellate Court also awarded a cost of one hundred thousand naira against the NUT.
Reading the unanimous judgment of the Court in the Appeal numbered CA/ MK/18/12/018, Justice Onyekachi Aka Otissi agreed with the submissions of ASUSS in the preliminary objection to the NUT case, on the grounds that the suit was an abuse of Court process and the parties joined were wrong parties.
Justice Onyekachi who noted that there must be end an end to litigation on a particular issue said it was honourable for the appellants to obey the previous decisions of the court on the matter rather than raising it afresh as if nothing had ever happened on the same issue
Counsel to ASUSS, Mr Olayiwola Afolabi had in its preliminary objection argued that the suit of NUT was improper as it was an abuse of court process following a previous decision of a higher court in connection with the matter, adding that it was the board of trustees that should be joined as defendants and not the two individuals listed by the appellants.
The NUT counsel, Dr M E Ediru did not comment on the next line of action by the appellants.
Recall, that sometimes in the 2002 secondary school teachers in Nassarawa state approached the High Court in Lafia in Suit no NSD/ LF/9/2002 to challenge the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT that it had no right to deduct check-off dues from their hard-earned salaries having withdrawn from the body and joined the then Conference of Secondary School Teachers, COSST.
On November 27th, 2003, the High Court gave judgement in favour of the plaintiff and ordered NUT to stop deducting check of dues from the salaries of secondary school tutors who were now members of COSST.
Consequently, the NUT filed an appeal against the judgment at the Court of Appeal Jos, Plateau State, but the said appeal was dismissed for failure of NUT to file their brief of argument which was dismissed.
On the 7th of February, eight years after the Nassarawa High Court delivered the judgement, the plaintiff/Appellant, Nigeria Union of Teachers filed another action at the newly created National industrial court claiming that the Conference of Secondary School Tutors, COSST now Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools had no power to collect check-off dues from their members in Nassarawa state without referring to the judgement of the high court which barred the Nigeria Union of Teachers from interfering into the affairs of secondary teachers now represented by the Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools.
On the implication of this decision, the national President of ASUSS, Mr Sam Omaji said the court had again asserted the rights of a worker to belong to the Union of his choice, maintaining that the incessant litigations by the NUT are unnecessary and unconstitutional.
Mr Omaji appealed to Governors of the 36 States of the Federation to respect the right of an individual to associate legitimately where his or her interest will be best protected.
“By this particular judgment and several others, we appeal to the conscience of State Governors and Houses of Assembly, our employers, who are products of a democratic process of choice, who sworn to defend the constitution and other extant laws to please respect the rights of Secondary Schools teachers members of ASUSS, whose check of dues are still wrongly deducted into NUT’s account to stop same in the interest of peace and justice”.