Authorities of Michael Opara University of Agriculture, Umudike, have declined to lift the suspension order placed on the local chapter chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Dr Uzochukwu Onyembinama, despite an ultimatum by the union to recall him. The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Hillary Edeoga, says the university’s decision is in line with the university’s Condition of Service.
Onyembinama was suspended in May for taking the university to court. But the Owerri Zone of ASUU, at its Congress held at the university campus last Friday, had called on the university authorities to immediately reverse the suspension order or face the wrath of the union.
Reacting to the resolution of the union, however, Prof Edeoga said the university took the action because the suspended ASUU chairman violated the university’s Condition of Service.
According to him, the suspended chairman, who was the acting Head of Department of Agricultural Economics Department, had been investigated by the Senate of the university for gross misconduct, including arbitrary award of marks.
“Following the report of staff investigation that confirmed the case of gross misconduct, the Senate approved the report for further action. Rather than allowing the committee to complete its assignment, the suspended branch chairman quickly ran to the court and filed a case against the university,” he explained.
On the allegation that the salary of the ASUU chairman was stopped, the vice-chancellor described the allegation as laughable and an attempt to divert people’s attention from the real issue. He said that till date, the suspended chairman is still collecting his full salary.
“The condition of service of the university is very clear. It says once a staff takes the university to court, he must be suspended. So, I did not suspend him, After all, his matter is undergoing due process through the committee system. But instead of waiting for the outcome of the Governing Council report, which is due process, he went to court demanding that he should not be disciplined,” Edeoga explained.
In its resolution, as presented by the Zonal ASUU Chairperson, Dr. Chinyere Echendu, to newsmen after the Congress, the union demanded that the university authorities rescind their decision with immediate effect.
“A number of things are going wrong here. The ASUU branch chairperson was last month suspended by the university for seeking redress and the protection of his rights as a Nigerian against the retrogressive measures by the university authorities who accused him of gross misconduct.
“The university, contrary to the rule of law and the guidelines of the university, suspended him and banned him from entering the premises of the institution.
“We have come here today to tell members of the Congress that the action against the oppressed would only last for a short time,” he declared.