The Vice Chancellor of the Lagos State University, Ojo, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun, has refuted allegations that the recent dismissal of 17 academic and non-academic staff by the Governing Council of the institution did not follow due process.
The vice chancellor, at a press conference held on Monday, described claims that the Council’s decision was manipulated for political reasons, in relation to two of the affected lecturers, Dr. Isaac Oyewunmi and Dr. Adebowale Adeyemi-Suenu, as untrue.
Fagbohun, who arrived at the venue of the event in company with other members of the Council, said the university acted strictly in conformity with its rules and regulations in the matter involving both lecturers.
Giving a detailed account of the circumstances that led to the dismissal of the lecturers, the VC said he wrote a letter to Dr. Oyewunmi, asking him to comment on a petition accusing him of demanding money to process the results of students under his supervision.
He said, “I wrote to Oyewunmi to comment on the petition and he denied the allegations contained in it. I wrote to the three members of staff who were mentioned in the petition and they all responded that Oyewunmi, indeed, demanded the money in question to process the results of the students.
“It was premised on this that a five-man fact-finding panel, headed by Prof. Michael Ikhariale, was set up. In its report dated January 16, 2017, the panel recommended that Oyewunmi had a case to answer. It is instructive to note that the panel called the petitioner and four other witnesses. Dr, Oyewunmi also appeared before it.”
Based on the panel’s report, Fagbohun added, a formal query was then issued to Oyewunmi by the Academic Staff Establishment and the case was referred to the institution’s Joint Council/Senate (Academic) Disciplinary Committee.
“The committee held three meetings in the course of which it interacted with the petitioner and 13 other witnesses. The petitioner and three of the witnesses were in the class of seven. He was the Class Representative.
“A key fact, as found by the committee, was that in their testimonies, the petitioner and three of the witnesses, all of the 2003 Modular year set of the Political Education programme, asserted that there was a demand for the sum of N50,000 by Dr. Isaac Oyewunmi (their subject coordinator) to process their results,” he said.
The vice chancellor noted that a statement made by Oyewunmi during a recorded conversation with another lecturer, simply identified as Dr. Abanikanda, corroborated the allegation that he demanded money from the students. “This was the basis for his dismissal,” he said.
On the other hand, Dr. Adeyemi-Suenu, Fagbohun continued, was dismissed for his alleged part in the alteration of marks, following information that some withdrawn students of the Department of History and International Studies had returned to the university through the assistance of some members of staff.
“I directed the University Integrated Data Centre to carry out a forensic audit of changes made during the 2015/2016 academic session. The forensic evidence linked the PF number and password of Dr. Adeyemi-Suenu to the alterations. Then I directed the Dean of the Faculty to investigate same.
“The Faculty of Arts set up a five-man fact-finding panel on the matter. There was a majority report signed by four members of the panel. The position of the report is that Adeyemi-Suenu had a case to answer. As a result of this, a query was issued to him by the Academic Staff Establishment to explain his involvement in the allegation. When he denied the allegations in his response, the case was also referred to the Joint Council/Senate (Academic) Disciplinary Committee,” he said.
He said that after the committee interacted with about 23 witnesses and Adeyemi-Suenu on the matter and found him culpable, he was dismissed for misconduct, in accordance with the provisions of the Conditions of Service Guiding Senior Staff of the Lagos State University 2008.
In his reaction to the Council’s decision, the General Secretary of the LASU chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Dr. Anthony Dansu, reportedly described Oyewunmi’s dismissal as unjust and an attempt to cripple the union.
Dansu was quoted as saying, “They (management) are not victimising Oyewunmi or Adeyemi-Suenu, but ASUU.”
But Fagbohun, at the press conference, said that ASUU had nothing to do with the dismissal, insisting that nobody should drag the union into the matter. “I want everybody to recognise that all of the directors here, who are also members of ASUU, cannot conspire against the union,” he said.