Industrial Court rules against removal of Vom Vet College Provost from office

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The National Industrial Court of Nigeria, sitting in Abuja, has ruled that the Minister of Agriculture, Muhammed Mahmoud Abubakar and the Executive Secretary of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), Professor Garba Sharubutu must not remove the Provost of Federal College of Veterinary and Medical Laboratory Technology, Vom, Jos, Professor Joseph Okwori, from his office.

This is the second time in two weeks that this would be ruled.

Justice Bashar Alkali, while ruling on the application for an injunction, on Monday, said the Minister and the Executive Secretary “have no power whatsoever, to remove the applicant” (Provost) from his office, when he had not finished his tenure.

The Court also frowned at the refusal of Professor Sharubutu to honour the memo sent to him by the immediate past Minister, Mallam Sabo Nanono, advising him on how not to involve himself with the recruitment of another Provost of the College.

According to the memo dated 4th June 2021, which was tendered in evidence, the Minister had advised Professor Sharubutu to go ahead by recruiting Heads of other institutions but not the Provost of Veterinary College in Vom, Jos, whom he said had two more years to stay in the office.

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Despite that, the Executive Secretary went ahead to advertise for the position of Provost of the College and shortlist 9 applicants for interview.

But the Provost, Professor Okwori, went to court and challenged the process and the Judge granted an interlocutory order to stop the interview scheduled for September 2.

Justice Alkali, during his ruling on Monday, specifically ordered that Professor Okwori be allowed in office, while the parties could continue with their suit.

The Court affirmed that Professor Okwori, who was appointed as a substantive Provost of the College on the 2nd July 2018, would still be in the office till 2023, “according to the appointment letter, which has not been controverted”.

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