Unilag conflict: ASUU sad, students seek FG’s intervention

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…As ASUU Chairman sues FUOYE over suspension***

Some students of the University of Lagos have called on the Federal Government and other key stakeholders in the university to urgently intervene in the conflict between the institution’s pro-chancellor and its management.

Tension has been in the institution in recent time following series of queries issued to about eight key management staff, including the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe.

A report says that the Registrar of the institution, Mr Oladejo Azeez, issued the queries on the orders of the Pro Chancellor, Dr Wale Babalakin.

The queries were said to be bordered on misappropriation of funds and travelling without permission, among other issues.

Some management staff of the university, have however, said that the queries did not follow due process.

Mr Jerry Ukazionu, a third year student of business administration said that urgent intervention of the Federal Government would avoid degeneration of the conflict.

According to him, strange persons armed and dressed in black paraded around the institution’s council chamber on Monday, creating fear in students.

“The strange men, numbering over 12, are looking combat-ready. We actually saw them taking strategic positions there.

“On inquiry, we were told that they were bouncers,’’ he told the newsmen.

He noted that an emergency meeting of the university’s council was slated for Monday and Tuesday at the chambers.

“We are feeling insecure with all these,” he told the newsmen.

Another student, Japhet Uche, who refused to mention his department, also frowned at the development, and called for peaceful resolution of the conflict.

Dr Dele Ashiru, the Chairman of the university’s chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), described the presence of the armed men as `siege’ to the campus.

According to him, the armed men were brought by Babalakin.

“This whole thing is coming to us as a surprise. That the pro-chancellor can carry out such a siege on an institution of this pedigree, leaves a lot to be desired.

“We are watching keenly to see how these whole thing plays out. We condemn this in absolute terms,” he said.

Dr Olubunmi Ajibade, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, told the newsmen that ASUU was not against probing anybody who violated financial regulation or operating outside his or her mandate.

He, however, said that ASUU was worried at the manner the issue was being handled.

“The whole issue is turning out to be a one-man show, and this is unacceptable by us.

“I do not have detailed information concerning this whole episode but, with what was discussed at our emergency congress, it is clear that these is a serious misapplication of power.

“When issues like this come up, it is only proper that due process is followed. You do not use your veto power to intimidate others.

“Whatever is the issue ought to have been brought for deliberation before council where many management staff are members.

” I heard they are having an emergency meeting; let us wait and see how it goes,” Ajibade said.

In the meantime, Gabriel Omonijo, Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE), has dragged the institution’s management before the National Industrial Court in Akure over his indefinite suspension.

Omonijo in a suit filed on April 29 by Funmi Falana and Taiwo Olawanle from Falana and Falana’s Chambers, averred that his indefinite suspension without pay by the university was illegal and violated the provisions of the Trade Union Act.

He argued that his suspension did not follow due process as stipulated in the university’s Conditions of Service which was an embodiment of the Acts that established the institution.

The union leader said the investigative panel that recommended his suspension to the university was biased based on its prejudiced composition.

Omonijo said that his suspension without pay by the university was “wrong and unjust’’, claiming that he was only invited in respect of the allegations made in the petition by ASUU to the Minister of Education.

He stated further that the investigative panel saddled with the responsibility to investigate the allegations made in the petition to the minister turned round to place him on suspension without pay due to his position as the Chairman of ASUU in the institution.

The claimant, however, engaged the services of Falana and Falana’s Chambers which wrote the university vide a letter dated March 11, 2019 informing it of the illegality of the constitution of the investigative panel, among others.

He said that the university responded vide a letter dated March 15, and signed by the Acting Registrar, Mrs Olayinka Ajayi, stating that the issues raised in the said letter were receiving attention of the university authorities.

The union leader said that the university was yet to recall him from the suspension since Feb. 14, 2019 despite several efforts made to resolve the issues that led to his “hasty suspension.’’

Omonijo, however, sought the declaration of the court that his suspension without pay by the university authorities in letters dated Feb. 14 and Feb. 15, 2019 as null and void.

He urged the court to order/direct the university authorities to reinstate him to his status as Senior Lecturer and to pay his “salaries, allowances and entitlements from February, 2019 till judgment is given in this suit.’’

He also sought an order restraining the university from further interfering with his rights, privileges and performance of his duties as the Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU), Federal University Oye-Ekiti branch.

There is a report that Omonijo is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Water Resources at the university.