Abuja (Sundiata Post) – Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI) has raised the alarm over alleged resort to witch-hunting of Union leaders by the Director General of the institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), Dr Bakut Tswah Bakut, instead of focusing on his mandate of finding solutions and resolving the plethora of problems threatening the corporate existence of Nigeria today.
ASURI stated this as it protested to the office over alleged intimidation of the Union leaders who works in the agency.
Leading the protest, the Secretary General/CEO of ASURI, Prof. Theophilus Ndubuaku claimed in a protest letter which he made available to Sundiata Post in Abuja, that the management of Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution led by Dr Bakut was intimidating a staff because of her involvement in the ideals of the Union, a development, he insisted was against the Labour law.
ASURI wondered how the IPCR leadership was dissipating energy on victimising a staff rather than concentrating on myriad of conflicts confronting the nation even the ICPR as a think tank agency mandated to resolve issues.
In the protest letter dated 1st July, 2022 which was addressed to the Supervising Hon. Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and signed by the Secretary General of ASURI, further claimed that the Union had earlier met with the Director General of IPCR with the Ministry of Labour and Employment over the same issue which they arrived at conclusion that the DG should stay off Union elated issues.
They wondered how the Union leader, and branch Secretary who was identified as Mrs Mercy Igbo was issued a final warning, preparatory for her sack despite the conciliatory meeting held at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
Part of the letter read: “As key stakeholders in the Research and Development Institutes (RDI) sector and watchers of the Institute, we can say it authoritatively and with all emphasis at our command that Dr Bakut has turned IPCR into an Institute for generating crisis.
“We petitioned the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), the Hon. Minister of Labour and Employment and the Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs as well as the Head of Civil Service of the Federation. While the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment called us for a conciliatory meeting, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that supervises IPCR ignored us.”
ASURI cited flagrant abuse of office by the IPCR Director General and breach of international norms by going ahead to ensure that a labour leader was witchunted in such an unconscionable manner.
The letter further asserted: “We wonder if the Management of IPCR understands what Public Service rules says about disciplinary procedure. If they do, why would they issue someone with final warning and then turn round to summon her to APD Committee?”
“All of these are in flagrant violation of international norms and convention of sheathing the sword while a matter in dispute has been apprehended and is being resolved.
Reacting, the Director General of IPCR insisted that the management under his leadership followed due process in taking disciplinary action against the said staff.
A copy of the IPCR response to the conciliatory meeting with the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment ASURI on 31st May, 2022 on the subject matter which he made available to Sundiata Post showed that the agency raised some observations, saying:
“That the Management of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) is in agreement with item 1-3 of the resolution.”
The DG explained that the disciplinary issue of the said staff has gotten attention of the governing Council of the Institute, hence, they were awaiting the outcome after which recommendation would be made to the Supervising ministry.
However, ASURI Scribe expressed worry over the way and manner the DG hurriedly constituted an illegal disciplinary committee for the Union leaders without recourse to laid down rule which says that Union must be notified to send a representative when any member is to face such a panel. He insisted that if the DG is not he’ll bent on getting rid of the Union leaders unjustly, he should have waited for the Labour Ministry that have waded in to complete their investigation.
Dr Ndubuaku recalled how Dr Bakut served the Union leaders query letter a day after the reconciliatory meeting with Ministry of Labour and ASURI and maliciously and vindictively back dating it to a Sunday date.