Strike: Falana slams Ngige for facilitating payment of withheld UNIZIK lecturers’ salaries

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Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) on Monday, criticised the initiate of the minister of Labour, Chris Ngige to facilitate the payment of some academics’ salary arrears at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), Awka.

The current administration delayed the teachers’ pay as a result of the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ (ASUU) eight-month nationwide strike last year.

Ngige requested that the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, refund the salary that had been withheld from 204 lecturers at the UNIZIK medical faculties in a letter dated March 30.

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Specifically, the minister said records jointly signed by the deans of medical science, basic clinical sciences, and basic medical sciences faculties respectively at UNIZIK showed that the said lecturers performed their duties while the strike lasted.

He claimed that the institution’s vice chancellor and the impartial findings of the Anambra state controller for the Labour Ministry supported his assertion.

But Falana, the ASUU lawyer, was not pleased with this. The human rights attorney claimed that the minister’s behaviour was illegal.

Contrary to Ngige’s assertion, Falana claimed, all UNIZIK lecturers participated in the eight-month strike last year.

“Dr Ngige has convinced the federal government not to pay ASUU members for embarking on strike in 2022. But he has decided to isolate his colleagues in his home state for special favour by causing their salaries to be paid for the period of the same strike,” Falana said.

“Dr Ngige took similar action when members of the National Association of Resident Doctors embarked on strike in 2021. The federal government paid the salaries of the resident doctors for the period of their strike.

“The actions of the minister run contrary to the provision of Section 42(1) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9, laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 which have prohibited any form of discrimination in the application of the law or policy of the government.”

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