By Gabriel Dike
There is no end yet to the ripples generated by the recent sack of 17 staff, including two union leaders.
The Governing Council of the Lagos State University (LASU) and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are still at war and can’t agree yet on how to resolve the differences.
Since the sack of the 17 staff on Thursday, September 7, including the chairman of ASUU, Dr. Isaac Oyewunmi and the vice chairman, Dr. Adebowale Adeyemi-Suenu, there is strain to the peace of the university.
On Friday, September 7, LASU management released names and departments of the 17 sacked staff as well as the two demoted as outcome of the Governing Council 115th meeting which considered report of its joint council/senate (academic) disciplinary committee and joint council (administrative and technical staff) disciplinary committee to dismiss 15 academic staff, two non-teaching staff and sanctioned others for misconduct.
Among the casualty was the chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), LASU branch, Dr. Isaac Oyewunmi, department of Human Kinetics, Sports and Health Education, his vice, Dr. Adebowale Adeyemi-Suenu, acting head department of History and International Relations, Mr. Olatoye Raji, department of Religions (Islamic Studies unit), Dr. Olugbenro Odofin, department of Education Foundation and Counselling Psychology, Dr. Adebowale Adebayo, department of Theatre Arts and Music, Dr. Scholastica Udegbe, department of Marketing, Dr. Olufemi Soyeju, department of Jurisprudence and International Law, Dr. Olawale Raimi, department of Biochemistry.
Others include Mr. Ademola Adesina, Department of Computer Science, Dr. Shamisudeen Badmus, Department of Accounting, Dr. Christiana Obagbuwa, Department of Computer Science, Dr. Emmanuel Asapo, Department of Chemical and Polymer Engineering, Mr. Lateef Salami, Department of Microbiology, Olubukola Oyeniya of Center for Environmental Sciences and Sustainable Development, Dr. Fatimat Bakare, Department of Chemical and Polymer Engineering, Mr. Ernest ODILI, assistant security officer, Mr. Ramon Alli (former Head Machine Operator). The council also demoted two staff, Dr. John Adeogun, Associate Professor, Department of Human Kinetics, Sports and Health Education and Mr Emmanuel Babatunde, senior security officer.
‘’The joint council/senate (academic) disciplinary committee and the joint council (administrative and technical staff) disciplinary committee which heard the cases strictly followed all laid down procedures, and duly gave opportunity to the individuals involved to defend themselves. The Lagos State University is poised to continue to quality assure its processes’’, the statement added.
Immediately the university bulletin was released, staffers gathered to discuss the mass sack just as academic and administrative activities were grounded for awhile. LASU security personnel on the prompting of the university management moved to stop ASUU chairman and his vice from gaining access to the union secretariat but other union leaders resisted the move.
When it began
On January 2016, a bizarre scenario played out at LASU as a former student, Alabi Davies Abiodun who graduated in 2013, petitioned the university authorities’ as a ‘student’ alleging a lecturer demanded for money to process his results thus preventing him from graduating.
The graduate who goes by two different names, Abiodun Adebola Jolaosho, (name used in his petition) and Alabi Davies Abiodun, (name used when he appeared at the panel and in 2013 convocation brochure) in his petition addressed to the Vice Chancellor, Prof Lanre Fagbohun and copied Governor Akinwumi Ambode, his deputy, attorney general of the state, Special Adviser on Education to the Governor and chairman, Governing Council of LASU, urged the VC to intervene in his case to enable him graduate.
He alleged that Dr. Oyewunmi, demanded N50,000 for processing of results for 2009, 2010 and 2011 prompting the VC to constitute a six-man investigative panel but the union leader and ASUU kicked against the action insisting the panel is not known to the University Act rather they insisted that the VC should refer the case to the council which would set up a joint council/senate committee to look into the petition as required by law establishing the institution.
At the Ikhariale panel, the petitioner who was admitted in 2003 with matriculation no 03-SW-03-448 told the panel that he chose not to disclose his true identity due to fear for life and claimed that he was threatened which Dr. Oyewunmi and the union demanded for evidence. He also admitted that he graduated in 2013.
On the case of Dr. Adeyemi-Suenu, the university management alleged that he unilaterally altered the results of 2 students already advised to withdraw by the senate in the department of History and International Studies in 2015/2016 academic session thus changing their status from withdrawn to good standing. It was also alleged that he changed results of some final year students and awarded grade point of 2.00 to two students for which they were absent.
ASUU LASU officials including the sacked chairman, Dr. Oyewunmi, were the first to fire the salvo, as they decried the governing council decision as politically motivated and attempt to silence the union.
ASUU LASU officials told The Education Report that the process leading to the sack of Oyewunmi and Adeyemi-Suenu was unlawful stating that information at its disposal revealed that exercise was stage managed as only the council chairman, Prof Ninolowo, VC, Prof Fagbohun and panel chairman, Sunny Ajose had copies of the report while 21 others watched the presentation on the screen.
The Education Report also got authoritatively that only two of five panel members signed the report because the other three kicked against the content of the report which they said did not reflect what the outcome of its sitting, confirming why the report was not circulated to members at the council meeting.
The national body through ASUU Lagos Zone Coordinator, Prof Olusiji Sowande, condemned and rejected the sack of LASU branch chairman and his deputy over alleged misconduct. It said the decision did not follow due process and was manipulated for political reasons as members of the governing council did not see copy of the report nor was it discussed at the meeting.
Sowande described the sack of the duo as an assault on the union. ‘’We have reports that the council secretariat was instructed not to circulate the report of the disciplinary cases to members of the council for consideration, even on the floor of the meeting. ‘’We are aware too that the reports presented by the chair of the joint senate/council committee on disciplinary matters did not reflect the deliberations and decisions reached at the panels, hence the hurried PowerPoint presentation made on the floor of the council’s meeting.’’
The Dean, Faculty of Arts, Prof Leke Fakoya, Dr Patrick Adegbuyi and others vehemently opposed the action of the zone on the sack of the duo and defended the decision of the governing council.
But Dr. Dele Seteolu, Political Science Department and Dr. Olusola Sokefun, backed the action of the zone and condemned the call for dissolution of the exco. Both stated that council decision to dismiss the duo was manipulated.
In reaction to ASUU zone’s position, LASU management amidst protest against the sack of the two union leaders, defended the dismissal of two union leaders and 15 other staff for misconduct, insisting the governing council followed due process.