By Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
The National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Kaduna Division has fixed 29th March, 2018, for judgment on the case of sac of 22,000 primary school teachers for alleged failed competency tests in the state.
The presiding judge, Justice Lawal Mani, who scheduled the date, said, having heard from both parties, Tuesday, adjourned the case at the end of the session for defense.
Counsel to the defendants refused to speak to journalists when approached for interviews at the end of the session. However, his counterpart, Barr Rindi Docan, who is representing claimant, told newsmen in an interview that the defendant was granted application for responses for originating summon sought for in the last adjournment.
The lawyer representing the teachers, Samuel Atum, had on October 30, 2017, filed a motion of “interlocutory injunction”, asking the court to restrain the government from dismissing or disengaging any teacher on the basis of the tests conducted in June 2017.
Justice Lawal Mani, during the session, granted the application pending the determination of the substantive suit. The case was adjourned to February 6th, 2018.
The hearing was attended by hundreds of teachers and Labour leaders, who crowded the premises, while the sessions continued. The lawyer, praised the court for “graciously” giving the order.
“This is democracy, and the premise of democracy is the rule of law; so, we expect nothing more than absolute submission by the state government to comply with the order of the court,” he told journalists. “I have confidence that the government will comply or obey this order.”
Lawyers representing the State Attorney-General and the State Government, as well as Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, TRCN, however, declined comments.
Some teachers said the ruling was encouraging. One of the teachers, Zainab Sanusi, notably said “It has given us hope. We hope, too, that the governor will obey the court order.”
The planned mass sack of teachers by the state government had sparked controversy after evidence truly showed the teachers performed woefully in the competency tests.
Some of the scripts released by the government showed that many of the teachers supplied ridiculous answers to basic questions, while about two-thirds of the teachers failed to score up to 75 per cent in the grading.
Kaduna government has since vowed to sack the affected workers, despite threats by the local chapter of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT, to embark on indefinite strike.
Government also said it would recruit 25,000 qualified teachers in their stead, seriously in progress towards next year.