Peace seems to have eluded the only nation’s university situated in the Federal Capital Territory as the ivory tower is currently embroiled in a cold war that is capable of snowballing to crisis if not properly handled.
Peoples Daily investigation revealed that the recent appointment of Professor Mike Adikwu as the new VC of the University had thrown up another controversy akin to the accreditation problem which kept the students home for months until it was resolved by the former minister of Education, Professor Rukayatu Rufai.
However, it was gathered that the appointment of Adikwu, a professor of pharmacy on the 30th of June, 2014, by the university Governing Council led by Gen. Samuel Ogbemudia (rtd) as the Vice Chancellor came amidst protest from some lecturers in the school.
The anti-Adikwu lecturers have among other things alleged that merit was not followed in the appointment process that saw Adikwu who came second with a total mark of 67 in the interview alongside his counterpart from University of Ilorin, Professor Abdulrasheed Lawal becoming the new VC.
Consequently, the university’s Director of Academic Planning, Dr. Muktar Mohammed and other two council members who were not satisfied with the selection process had gone to seek redress.
The trio had sued the new VC and the University Governing Council at the Industrial Court sitting in Abuja praying the court to reverse the matter in favour of Lawal.
Another development which added fuel to the fire was a report published in some dallies last week, alleging that the new Vice Chancellor was sacked by the National Industrial Court presided over by Hon. Justice B. A. Adejumo, who is the President of the National Industrial Court.
The report also said that the court order restrained the Vice Chancellor from performing his functions as the VC of the University pending the outcome of the case in court between the parties, explaining that the development has resulted in unrest in the school.
However, in a swift reaction to the reports, solicitors to the university and its Governing Council had debunked the reports in a statement signed by Wole Olanipekun & Co, titled “Purported sacking of the Vice-Chancellor of the university of Abuja by the National Industrial Court – rejoinder”.
The rejoinder denied that nothing of such nature happened as reported in the dallies under the caption “Court Sacks UniAbuja V.C”.
According to the rejoinder, “at no time did the National industrial Court, presided over by Hon. Justice B.A. Adejumo or any judge of the Court make any order restraining the Vice Chancellor who was appointed by the Council from performing the functions of his office as reported by the newspapers.
“We act as solicitors to the University of Abuja, the Governing Council of the University of Abuja, Prof. Mike Adikwu (Vice Chancellor, University of Abuja) etc (hereinafter referred to as ‘our clients’) and on whose behalf and instruction we make this rejoinder to the newspaper sponsored publications to the effect that the National Industrial Court, presided over by Hon. Justice B. A. Adejumo (President of the National Industrial Court,) has restrained the vice chancellor of the university of Abuja, Prof. Mike Adikwu from performing his functions as the Vice-Chancellor of the University.”, the statement said.
The solicitors acknowledged that their clients are aware of the action with Suit No. NICN/ABJ/188/2014 by Dr. Raji Rasheed and 2 others versus University of Abuja and 7 others, filed by three Council members in respect of the appointment of the Vice Chancellor.
The rejoinder further stated that the plaintiffs are not prepared to ventilate their defense on the pages of newspapers, as that would be done properly and adequately within the precincts of the court.
Our checks, however, revealed that the said industrial court order only restrained the Governing council of the university from performing its duties.
It further revealed that the first hearing of the case was fixed for August which was postponed to 7th of October as the court will go on recess this month.
A lecturer at the university who doesn’t want his name in print said the selection process that saw Prof. Adikwu emerged as the University VC was a sham and violated many of the selection process.
“One, the 2009 university enacted Act says, two people from the same zone cannot be member of the governing council, VC or head of any of the administrative office of an institution at the same time. Today, Uniabuja’s Librarian and Prof. Adikwu are all coming from Benue, a law that disqualified Prof. Adikwu from been sworn in as head of the university”
“Secondly, for the first time in the selection process of VC of the university, candidates who contested for the post alongside Professors Adikwu, Danbatta and Lawal were allowed to take part in the selection process which was not completed before Adikwu was handed over the office by the former VC, Professor. John Adelabu. Some of the Council members were against the new development but the chairman Governing Council ignored their warnings and announced at the meeting that ended amidst protest that Adikwu is the chosen one and asked the aggrieved Council members to go to court if they are not satisfied with the selection process”, he said.
He also informed that on assumption of office, the industrial court had issued a restraining order to the Council stopping it from appointing Adikwu as the new VC of the university until the end of the selection process.
Continuing, he also alleged that Adikwu had started witch hunting some of the council members who took him to court by stripping the University’s Director of Academic Planning and one of the Council members who took him to court, Dr. Muktar Mohaamed, off his membership of the Council.
The source noted that the 2003 university enacted Act stated that one of the requirements of the position of head of institutions is for the candidate to be a graduate of any of the faculties existing in the university, he stressed that Adikwu was a professor of Pharmaceutical and UniAbuja has no department of Pharmaceutical.
Peoples Daily checks also revealed that appointment letter of VC of any Nigerian University comes from the Secretariat of the Council and signed by the Registrar of such institution, but that was not the case with the handing over to power of Prof. Micheal Adikwu.
It was learnt that Adikwu’s appointment letter was back dated to 30th of June with effect from 1st of June and was not signed by the Registrar who was sent on compulsory leave by the Governing Council and was handed over to him by the former VC of the university at a quite ceremony without the presence of any of the Principal officers.
It was gathered that the security report from the FCT Department of State Security on Prof. Garba Danbatta who came tops in the interview conducted for the three best candidates for the position last month, came out clean as he was cleared of all the allegations leveled against him which was used by the governing council to disqualify his candidature.
It would be recalled that Prof. Dambatta, came tops with a total of 86 in the interview where Prof. Lawal came second with 67 and Prof. Mike Adikwu came third with 64%.