By Rukayat Adeyemi
Lagos – As controversy continues in the alleged backdating of the professorship of the current Vice-Chancellor of Lagos State University (LASU), Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun, the institutions former Registrar, Mr Akinwunmi Lewis, says the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), LASU Chapter misplaced their allegation against him.
Lewis told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos that the union’s allegation that he unduly backdated the Fagbohun’s professorship was a misplaced.
He said that contrary to what was being circulated by the union, he was actually not the registrar when the processes of the promotion leading to the Professorship of the then Dr Fagbohun was done.
Lewis said the process of the promotion was done under the leadership of Prof. John Obafunwa as Vice-Chancellor and Mr Lateef Animashaun as the Registrar whom he succeeded.
He said the decision and processes leading to the promotion of Prof. Fagbohun had been concluded under the headship of Animashaun before he assumed office and implemented what he met on paper.
“The consideration of the promotion at that level of Appointments and Promotions and Council was done under the headship of Animashaun who was the Registrar until May 18, 2014.
“Where my name is featuring prominently is because as at the time the decision of the council was conveyed for implementation, I had already assumed duty as Registrar and the lot fell on him to implement,” he said.
Lewis explained that promotion in LASU as contained in its books takes effect from Oct. 1, of the promotion year regardless of when the exercise was completed.
“What this simply means is that if you start the promotion for the level of Associate Professor to Professor for instance in 2017/2018, and it was not concluded until 2020 or 2021.
“The effective date of that promotion will still be Oct. 1, 2018. However, the beneficiary of the promotion will not be entitled to promotion arrears no matter how long it takes to process it.
“The promotion takes effect from when the processes began to ensure that the beneficiary does not lose seniority.
“The letter conveying the approval of council with respect to the said promotion stated categorically that it was for the assessment year of 2007/2008, however, it does not attract any financial benefit.
“If you go through the record of staff of LASU since I joined in 1994, you will see all this applicable as it were,” he said.
Lewis said that if the promotion had been effective 2014, it means those whose promotion were not due in 2012/2013 would had become a senior to Prof. Fagbohun whose promotion was due since 2007/2008.
He emphasised that the promotion letter of Fagbohun as circulated by the union also included names of other officers who were due for promotion or regularisation and demanded that their files be looked into to confirm any bias in the backdating.
Lewis, however, urged all the concerned parties to await the consideration and decision of the university council and Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode on the petition forwarded by ASUU to them on the matter.
The former registrar disclosed that the state government through the office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Mr Obafela Bank-Olemoh, had directed the university management to react to the petition and that had been done.
Lewis noted that the matter was no longer in the purview of the university and had been taken over by the state government which is the proprietor of the institution.
“When an issue has gone beyond the elementary, side comments and protests here and there becomes surbjudice because it could smear the cause of justice.
“So, I advice those who flagged the issue to allow the whole process and investigation to be concluded.
“If after the process had been concluded and you still feel the issue was not addressed, you can still further appeal in a law court to ensure that justice, fairness and equity is done.
“At the end, we will know who is mischievous and have misinformed the public, ” he said.
NAN reports that ASUU-LASU had on June 1, sent a petition requesting an investigation into the culpability or otherwise of Lewis in the wrongful dating of the promotion of then Dr Fagbohun as a Professor in the Department of Public Law.
The union had attached confidential document such as promotion letter of Fagbohun from his file to their letter.
Meanwhile, a position letter by the university faculty of law which is the custodian of the promotion letter alleged that the document was stolen and condemned the act by the union.
The letter noted that removing documents from the faculty Dean’s office without legitimate access to same was not only unethical but was an act of irresponsibility and criminal.
It said that the union’s act had created an unconducive and suspicious atmosphere for the Dean by making colleagues in the faculty to view his tenure with suspicion and eroded confidence.
Also, Dr Tony Dansu, ASUU-LASU Secretary and Dr Adeolu Oyekan, Assistant Secretary and Dr Oluwakemi Aboderin-Sonibare of ASUU-LASU, who were alleged for the unauthorised removal, dissemination and publication of the official document were already facing a panel.
The fate of the officials who were also charged for making false assertions capable of putting the university and its official to disrepute was expected to be determined by the university’s council in its sitting next month.
The decision of council will follow the recommendations of the panel which will be submitted to it.
Meanwhile, four zones of ASUU had on Sept. 14 staged a peaceful protest to the Lagos State Government House to demand that Gov. Ambode send a visitation panel to LASU and also stop the ongoing panel its members were facing.