LASU: UNABATING WITCH-HUNT, HARRASSMENT AND POLITICALLY-MOTIVATED VICTIMISATION OF STAFF UNIONS’ LEADERS AND MEMBERS IS A CAUSE FOR CONCERN
- ERC Calls for an Independent Panel of Inquiry into the Allegations and Processes Leading to the Dismissal of Dr. Isaac Akinloye Oyewumi and Dr. Adebowale Adeyemi-Suenu – respectively Chairman and Vice Chairman of ASUU LASU
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the un-abating witch-hunt and politically-motivated victimization of leaders of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU LASU) and other unions at the Lagos State University (LASU) by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun.
The attacks directed at ASUU LASU in the past few months have been most vicious and the aim is undoubtedly to destroy the soul of the union. At the moment, out of an 8-member executive of ASUU LASU, two (the Chairman and the Vice Chairman) have been unlawfully dismissed, three others have been queried while plans are in the works to victimize the remaining 3 officials as well as past executives. This state of affairs is unacceptable and it is high time students, staff, parents and Nigerians rose up to call Prof. Fagbohun to order.
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) is opposed to the harassment, witch-hunt, victimization and all attacks on democratic rights on-going in LASU. We demand the immediate and unconditional recall of Dr. Isaac Oyewumi, Dr. Adebowale Adeyemi-Suenu (respectively Chairman and Vice Chairman of ASUU LASU) and all politically victimized staff in LASU.
We also demand an independent panel of inquiry composed of representatives of the labour movement, professional groups, alumni association, parents and students to look into the whole crisis including the allegations and the processes leading to the dismissal of two ASUU leaders, Dr. Isaac Oyewumi and Dr. Adebowale Adeyemi-Suenu as well as other cases of with-hunt and politically-motivated victimization ongoing in the University. This independent panel of inquiry is crucial now. Otherwise, the developing and un-abating clampdown on unions and union leaders could throw LASU into another needless and avoidable crisis.
Recall that on the 19th day of November 2017, the ERC issued a public statement demanding the recall of the Chairman and Vice-chairman of ASUU LASU, Dr. Isaac Oyewumi and Dr. Adebowale Adeyemi-Suenu. Since then, the repression has gone from bad to worse with the authorities employing the services of the police to harass, intimidate, arrest and detain some of the victimized staff leaders.
Also the General Secretary, Assistant General Secretary and Treasurer of ASUU LASU have also been queried for allegedly maligning the image of the University. Whereas what the trio have done to the consternation of Prof. Fagbohun and his kitchen cabinet is to continue to stand by and campaign for the recall of their victimized colleagues.
The crime for which these union leaders are being victimized is their opposition to the illegal appointments, brazen violation of University rules and impunity of the University administration. The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Fagbohun, together with his kitchen cabinet and following the autocratic tradition laid down by the Obafunwa-led administration, wants to run the University like a military barrack where no voices of dissent are tolerated.
Unlike what the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun, would have the public believe, the dismissal is not an effort to rid LASU of corruption and nepotism but a grand plot to cow the unions on campus using dirty means including slamming on their leaders false allegations in order to portray them as criminals.
This is why the processes leading to the dismissal of the union leaders were marred with irregularities and manipulation in violation of the principles of natural justice. Following their dismissal, the increasing use of police and other security agencies to harass and intimidates the victimized staff and all those who stand by them also shows that there is more to it than meets the eye.
This method of calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it is not at all new. As the public would recall, it was similar method of persecution of staff union leaders together with anti-poor policies of fee hike which the previous administration of Prof. Obafunwa embraced that threw LASU into needless crisis and turmoil years ago. This was exactly the same manner Prof. Obafunwa orchestrated the withdrawal of the PhD of the then ASUU Chairman, Dr. Adekunle Idris just because ASUU was openly critical of his various undemocratic and anti-poor policies including the fee hike which was imposed on students then. As it was then, so it is now. The public should therefore not be surprised if the ongoing repression is connected with a subterranean plan to increase fees in the University.
Conclusively, we call on well-meaning Nigerians, trade unions, human rights organizations, alumni and other concerned groups to call on the Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun-led University management not to throw LASU into another needless crisis and to openly support the demand for an independent panel of enquiry on the allegations against the ASUU leaders.
Hassan Taiwo Soweto Ibukun Omole
National Coordinator (07033697259) National Secretary