Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Owerri zone, have demanded the immediate resignation of the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology Owerri, Prof. Nnenna Oti, over alleged corrupt practices and anti-union activities.
ASUU stated this in a statement signed by its Coordinator, Dennis Aribodor, during a press conference held in ASUU-UNIZIK Secretariat in Awka, Anambra State capital on Friday.
The union is composed of members from Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Federal University of Technology Owerri, Imo State University, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umuahia and Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.
Aribodor, flanked by other union members, said their Secretariat in FUTO, had been sealed by the chief security officer of the university on the orders of the varsity’s vice chancellor, whom he accused of causing division among ASUU members of the institution, after her resignation as a member of the union.
He said, “The attention of the ASUU, Owerri Zone has been drawn to the consistent and concerted efforts of the administration of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, to ridcule the leadership of ASUU and cause disaffection within the ASUU FUTO branch of the Union.
“On June 22, 2023, the Vice Chancellor of FUTO, Prof. Nnenna Oti, purportedly resigned her membership of ASUU of the university using the official letterhead of the office of the Vice Chancellor.
“Oti ought to have known that labour laws do not permit an employer to belong to a union of employees. Consequently, as Vice Chancellor of FUTO, she is not a member of the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
“If she desires to resign her membership of the Union, she should resign in her individual capacity following the extant provisions of the Constitution of the Academic Staff Union of Universities as stipulated in Article 3 Section ( vii).
“Sequel to the purported resignation, the unfortunate events began to unfold on July 3, 2023 with purported Congress meeting in which a group of ASUU-FUTO members, acting out an already prepared script, purportedly suspended all the former executives of ASUU in FUTO and replaced them with new ones in acting capacity.
“This was immediately followed by the sealing of the ASUU-FUTO Secretariat by the chief security officer of the university.
The ASUU Owerri Zone hopes that these misguided members understand that the former Executive Committee of the ASUU-FUTO is the one that was led by Dr Christopher Echereobia, who is alleged to be the brain behind the efforts to decimate the union in FUTO.
“Again, on July 4, 2023, one Mr C. C. Onwuachu, the acting Secretary of the misguided members, wrote to the Secretary of ASUU-FUTO, demanding a handover of all ASUU property to him.
As we speak, the Secretariat of ASUU-FUTO is still under lock and key, in spite of the appeal made to the Vice Chancellor by the leadership of ASUU.”
The union also stated that the legitimate leadership of ASUU FUTO is the executive committee led by Comrade Chinedu Ihejirika, adding that any other group that claims leadership of the union at FUTO is but a group of imposters.
“On July 13, 2023, a letter from the registrar of the university, Chiedozie Uba, directed all chairmen and executive committee members of staff of the union in the university to obtain approval before embarking on any trip outside the university.
“This directive, targeted at the leadership of the staff unions, is discriminatory and obnoxious.
It is discriminatory in the sense that any staff of FUTO other than the Chairman and Executive members of the Staff Union is at liberty to embark on any trip outside the university without approval. Where then is the sense of justice, equity, fair play, and good conscience on the part of the Administration of FUTO?,” the group added.
They, however, noted that the second letter from the Vice Chancellor, Professor Nnenna Oti, where she gave all staff union two weeks from the date of the letter to submit the duly signed membership forms of members authorising deduction of check off dues and any other monies from their salaries is a violation of trade union act and constitution of the union.
They added that another bone of contention rocking the Union is the corrupt and fraudulent professorial appointment of Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami while serving as a Minister of the Federation by the Administration of FUTO.
“In the dailies of Monday, September 21, 2020, the authority of the Federal University of Technology Owerri advertised for staff vacancies. For the position, Qualification and Experience), the advert stipulated a doctorate degree in the relevant field plus a minimum of twelve (12) years post qualification experience in teaching and research in a university.
“Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami did not have the 12 years post qualification experience having obtained his doctorate degree in March 2014.
This deficit in a sane claim implies that Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami should not have made the shortlist of qualified candidates. His application should have been discarded at this point.
“This was not to be, the authority in FUTO began the scheme that saw him enlisted as one of the seven Readers Associate Professor promoted to the rank of Professor. After the purported promotion, he was issued an appointment letter.
“ASUU NEC directed ASUU-FUTO to inquire into the matter. ASUU-FUTO Congress concluded that the appointment followed due process and without reporting to ASUU NEC and went to the public with the conclusion. There waere protests by those who know the career progression of Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim,” they added.
The group also warned Oti to retrace her steps, halt the harassment and threat to the Comrade Chinedu Ihejirika-led Executive of ASUU FUTO for standing on the path of truth.
Professor Oti made the news during the governorship election in Abia State when she alleged of pressure to compromise the outcome of elections (a claim she failed to provide a single evidence about).