Sacking us is a distraction from LASU VC’s ‘illegal professorship’, lecturers say

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Two of the five recently sacked lecturers of the Lagos State University (LASU) have said that their dismissal by the Governing Council of the school was a distraction from addressing the issues they previously raised about the Vice-Chancellor, Olanrewaju Fagbohun.

Both Anthony Dansu and Adeolu Oyekan who are executives of the LASU branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have alleged that the management was deliberately victimising them for speaking the truth.

They claimed that Fagbohun, a law professor, holds an “illegal professorship” as his promotion was unmerited. But he had overtime maintained his innocence of the allegations.

Dansu, the union’s secretary along with Oyekan, his deputy and Oluwakemi Aboderin-Shonibare, the treasurer were three officials dismissed for similar offences of possession of confidential documents.

On Tuesday, some professors of the university had backed the decision to sack the trio saying that it was within the provisions of the law.

However, Dansu insisted that the university erred and described the professors’ move as shameful and an attempt to weaken ASUU in the school.

“It is very clear to everybody, including them (the professors) that it is a case of victimisation. The University administration is determined to kill ASUU in LASU,” Dansu, a senior lecturer said in a phone interview with EduCeleb.com.

“They did this in September 7, 2017. After then, these same professors came up and defended that case that it was not a case of victimisation.”

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He also recalled that a similar case in 2015 when an ASUU official whose PhD was withdrawn and the University denied victimisation only to later retract the move after an appeal.

He opined that the Council carried out that dismissal “so that ASUU will not be able to function in that university.”

Olanrewaju Fagbohun, LASU Vice-Chancellor

‘Illegal professorship’

Dansu alleged that Fagbohun holds an “illegal professorship”.

“They (the council) failed to address the issue of illegal professorship. He earned that professorship illegally.”

Explaining further, he said that Fagbohun left the services of LASU in August 2011 for the Nigerian Institute for Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS). So, he could not be benefiting from a promotion exercise after his later return to the University in 2014.

Corroborating him, Oyekan described Fagbohun’s professorship as “unmerited” claiming that he couldn’t have risen to the rank after already leaving the services of LASU three years earlier.

Allegations and the sack

The sacked lecturers were found culpable of unauthorised removal, retention and dissemination of official confidential documents and infractions arising from speaking with the media.

In his defence to that, Oyekan admitted that he and Dansu actually granted interviews with both Sahara Reporters and TV360.

He explained that these were following the resolution of the Congress of ASUU LASU, to let the public know that the dismissal of its Chairperson and Vice Chairperson (Dr Isaac Akinloye Oyewumi and Dr Adebowale Adeyemi-Suenu) in September 2017 was an act of victimisation over their “principled opposition” to “the serial illegalities” of the Vice Chancellor.

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On the confidential document released, he said it was a letter issued by the erstwhile Registrar of the university, Akinwunmi Lewis, to Fagbohun “in respect of his dubious promotion to the rank of Professor.”

In the letter, Mr Lewis wrote to Fagbohun, informing him of the promotion to the rank of Professor with effect from 1st October, 2008.

“There is no evidence anywhere that the Governing Council met to change the effective date of the promotion of Dr Fagbohun to 2008, never mind the fact that even the date of 2014 was undeserved and illegal,” Oyekan added.

For Aboderin-Shonibare, she reportedly got possession of the Assessor’s report, report of appointments, promotions and disciplinary committee of the Council to justify why she should have been promoted to associate professorship since 2011 instead of 2015, which she was.

A copy of conditions of service for LASU staff members seen by EduCeleb.com listed the “removal of documents from personal file or confidential file” as a misconduct attracting dismissal.”

In a Facebook post, Oyekan also described the disciplinary committee that found them culpable as “spineless” insisting that their possession of the documents were covered by the Freedom of Information Act of 2011.

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Botched court case

Prior to their eventual sack, the three lecturers had sued the university management for alleged harassment, intimidation and intent to terminate their appointments.

But a court ruled that their case was premature as they had not exhausted internal Disciplinary avenues to settle their grievances in the university.

Plans ahead

The sacked officials said they are considering exploring avenues to seek redress.

They also insisted that it was ASUU LASU that was under attack.

In the words of Dansu, “This is not about we (sic) as individuals. These particular illegalities are about the union. The union will process it and determine the approach we are going to follow. I cannot speak for myself.”

However, Oyekan called on the university’s visitor, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to set up an investigative panel to look into this issue as well as other allegations of mismanagement of funds and abuse of office under Fagbohun.

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