THE Owerri Zone of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has cried out over the alleged suspension of officials of the union in the Federal University of Technology, FUTO, Owerri, Imo State, by the management of the university.
The Owerri zone of ASUU, which is made up of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam; Federal University of Technology, Owerri; Imo State University, Owerri; Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike and Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, at a news briefing in Awka on Thursday, said its attention was drawn to what it called, the consistent and concerted efforts of FUTO administration to ridicule the leadership of ASUU FUTO and cause disaffection in the branch.
Coordinator of ASUU Owerri zone, Professor Dennis Aribodor, at the briefing attended by all the chairmen of ASUU in the zone, accused the institution’s management of replacing the suspended officials with its cronies in acting capacities.
“The leadership of ASUU Owerri Zone hereby informs the general public that the legitimate leadership of ASUU FUTO is the executive committee led by Comrade Chinedu Ihejirika.
“Any other group that claims leadership of the union at FUTO is but a group of impostors as they are not known to the leadership of ASUU Owerri Zone and the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Union”, he said.
Aribodor also questioned the rationale behind the directive that a chairman or an executive member of a staff union in the university returning to his residence in Owerri (a trip outside the University) should seek for approval to return home.
He added: “ASUU Owerri Zone also hopes that the FUTO administration understands that the staff of FUTO are accountable to the university only between the hours of 8 am – 4 pm on working days only. The blanket directive can only come from minds that are obviously warped.
“There is also a letter from the Vice Chancellor, Professor Nnenna N. Oti, giving all staff unions two weeks to submit the duly signed membership forms of members authorizing deduction of check off dues and any other monies from their salaries. This is in violation of the extant provisions of the Trade Union Act and the Constitution of the Academic Staff Union of Universities in an attempt to stifle the Staff Unions in FUTO”.
On the purported resignation of the Vice Chancellor as a member of ASUU, Aribodor said she ought to have known that labour laws do not permit an employer to belong to a union of employees in the first place.
“As Vice Chancellor of FUTO, she is not a member of the ASUU. 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).
“The forgoing is the unfortunate rationale for the onslaught on the leadership of ASUU FUTO. The Vice Chancellor should be told that the honourable thing to do in the light of the revelations is not to resign from ASUU, but to resign from her office as Vice Chancellor.
“Sequel to the purported resignation, the unfortunate events began to unfold on the 3rd of July 2023 with a 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 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 (CSO) of the University.
“As we speak, the secretariat of ASUU FUTO is still under lock and key in spite of the appeals made to the Vice Chancellor, Professor Nnenna N. Oti, by the leadership of ASUU Owerri Zone and a group of professors in FUTO.
“The onslaught on the leadership and members of our union at FUTO has continued unabated.
“The ASUU Owerri zone hereby urges the Vice Chancellor 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.
“The university is where we seek the truth, find the truth, teach the truth, defend the truth and preserve the truth no matter whose ox is gored”, the ASUU zonal coordinator said.