People are pleading with President Muhammadu Buhari to order Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour, to immediately reverse the deduction in the October salaries of members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
For the month of October 2022, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) received half pay from the Federal Government.
According to reports, several lecturers were paid between N71,000 and N121,000 in October.
Ngige explained the choice by stating that ASUU members had received their October salaries proportionately by the use of pro-rata because they cannot be paid for work that is not completed.
However, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project criticized the Federal Government in a statement on Sunday.
SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, also asked President Buhari to direct “the acting Accountant General of the Federation, Sylva Okolieaboh to immediately reverse the apparently illegal deductions from the salaries of members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for October 2022.”
The rights group wants the Federal Government “to pay ASUU members full salaries for the duration of their strike action.”
“Paying half salaries to ASUU members solely for exercising their human rights is patently unlawful and incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and international standards,” the statement read.
“The alleged deductions from the salaries of ASUU members also amount to punishing them for exercising their right to strike.”
“The deductions are illegal and disproportionate. The deductions may also be construed as a deliberate attempt to take away the right to strike, and to make ASUU a lame duck.”
“The right to strike implies the right of workers not to be punished for striking. ASUU members do not, therefore, forfeit their salaries because they exercise their right to strike.”
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of this letter’s receipt and/or publication. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our requests in the public interest.”
“Illegal deductions from the salaries of ASUU members may also violate the right to work, and to respect of the dignity inherent in a human being.”
On February 14, ASUU embarked on strike and suspended it on October 14. While the strike lasted, the government insisted that lecturers would not be paid for the period of the strike.