By Rukayat Adeyemi
Lagos – The Faculty of Law, Lagos State University (LASU), on Friday condemned an alleged theft and circulation of a confidential document in its custody by executive members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Dr Tony Dansu, Secretary, ASUU-LASU, and Dr Adeolu Oyekan, the Assistant Secretary, were alleged of unauthorised removal, dissemination and publication of official document.
They were also accused making false assertions capable of putting the university and its official to disrepute and facing an ongoing panel whose recommendation will be submitted to council for ratification next month.
The document was for the promotion of the university’s current Vice-Chancellor, Dr Olanrewaju Fagbun to a Professor in a bid to contend that his professorship was backdated by the former Registrar, Mr Akinwunmi Lewis, from 2014 to 2007/2008.
The document which had been declared missing by the faculty was traced to ASUU because it bears its stamp.
Prof. F.A.R. Adeleke, the university’s Dean, Law Faculty, when contacted refused to make any verbal comment because he and five of his staff were also facing the panel on the missing document and it would be prejudice to the panel to speak.
Adeleke, however, referred NAN to a seven page position letter he wrote to ASUU immediately the missing document was in circulation and the issue escalated before the panel began sitting, to dissociate himself and faculty from the missing document.
Adeleke’s letter obtained by NAN condemned the act by ASUU -LASU and noted that removing documents from his office without legitimate access to same was not only unethical but was an act of irresponsibility and criminal.
The letter 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.
It said this was suggestive of Adeleke’s administrative incompetence to safeguard interests of his colleagues and protect their privacy, possibly either due to negligence or deliberate leaking of information in their personal file.
“I should be credited with a sufficient quantum of intelligence as to how such a document evidencing a justified backdated promotion have been released to ASUU by me to prove a futile point.
“When I personally was a beneficiary of a backdated promotion in the same faculty, additionally, two or three members of the same faculty got their promotions backdated to the time we filled the APER form.
“It is on record that Akinwunmi Lewis was not the Registrar during the time of all these backdated promotion and, in fact, my own promotion was not only similarly backdated but accompanied with monetary arrears.
“Justice is not treating persons equally but treating persons of similar situations similarly and this is what the university did in the case of those of us in the Law Faculty that were unjustly denied promotion for years,’’ the letter said.
The dean’s letter also quoted the criminal law of 2015, Section 60, which provides that “any person who, being employed in the public service, without proper authority removes, or makes a copy of any document in the property of his employer is guilty of a misdemeanour and is liable to imprisonment for one year’’.
Reacting, Dansu said the union’s secretary and his assistant had a mandate to act as directed by the union and write letters on behalf of its congress and ASUU.
“Since the time of the Oyewunmi-led executive which started in 2016, we have written over 340 letters and 90 per cent of such letters we write have attachments of documents and nobody has ever asked us where have we got the document from?
“It is strange to be asking the union where they got document they are using, instead of asking if the information in the document was correct,’’ he said.
The secretary said that the union officials were subjected to a panel because the document in question affected the number one person in the university.
He referred to the tenure of the past Vice-Chancellor. Prof. John Obafunwa, which was synonymous with a “No Vacancy, No Promotion’’ policy, the union got documents from faculties to fight for its members and was not questioned.
“We did not get the document from the Faculty of Law.
“This document is a public document, a promotion letter that anyone could have access to during the process of issuance by the Appointment and Promotion Committee and its travel to the faculty of the beneficiary,’’ he said.
Dansu said the assertions made by him and the deputy secretary after the dismissal of its erstwhile chairman and the deputy, which had now become an issue of contention was sequel to a position by the union’s congress that the two union leaders were wrongfully dismissed.
NAN had reported that the union’s erstwhile chairman, Dr Isaac Oyewunmi, was dismissed by the university’s Governing Council in September 2017, for demanding for a bribe of N50,000 from a final year student.
While the deputy, Adebowale Adeyemi-Suenu, was sacked for unilaterally altering the results of 12 students already advised to withdraw by Senate to upgrade the students result.
Following their dismissal, Dansu and Oyekan, who stepped in as leaders of the union had told newsmen that the processes leading to the dismissal of the chairman and the deputy was faulty.
They claimed the dismissal of their leaders was an attempt by the management to undermine the union and silence dissenting views on the campus.
According to the source, the two union leaders while facing an ongoing panel were charged for making false assertions without justifiable facts that contravenes reasons for the sack of their chairman and the deputy.
NAN also reports that another ASUU official, Dr Oluwakemi Aboderin-Sonibare, the Treasurer of the union, was also facing the panel for retrieving and attaching an assessor’s report to a memorandum she submitted to the vice-chancellor.
The memorandum sent to the vice-chancellor by Aboderin-Sonibare to appeal for consideration of the decision of the Appointment and Promotion Committee and the Disciplinary Committee on her 2014/2015 promotion, also included a report of the Appointment and Promotion Committee.
Dansu, however, explained that Aboderin-Sonibare was one of the university’s official who was denied promotion under Prof. Obafunwa’s leadership and had been promoted by the current leadership of the university in 2017 with a backdate to 2014/2015.
He said her letter to the current vice-chancellor was to demand that her promotion be backdated to 2013 so that she won’t lose her seniority and a copy of the assessment report by her assessor attached by her was obtained from the union’s secretariat.
“The document she attached was part of the compendium of those we fought for their promotion during the past administration,’’ he said.
Meanwhile a copy of the university’s condition of service of 2017, also obtained by NAN prescribes in chapter three that misconducts such as false claims against the university and its officials were punishable.
Also, extraction of minutes of meetings without the permission of the Head of Department if investigated and proven could lead to termination or compulsory retirement.
Mr Akinwunmi Lewis, the immediate past Registrar of the university told NAN that the “rules of engagement in the university states that official documents are sacrosanct and are not to fly around or about.’’
Lewis said such documents were not to be found in possession of those who are not schedule officers to hold the records.
He said those who were custodians of the records were also bound by law to use the document for official purposes only and return it for safe keeping.
“It is a global practice that under no circumstance must an employee who is not responsible for documents to take such with a view of taking advantage of the system or for peculiar benefit.
“If such happens such employee would be put through a panel and if found culpable, will be sanctioned,’’ he said.
Lewis noted that there was no immunity covering union officials in regards to the default of the rules of engagement, as a union member was first an employee before becoming a unionist.
“The rules of engagement binds on all and if there is an infraction emanating from any group or union, council cannot punish all the members for that but it will rather mete out its punishment on the officer found culpable,’’ he said.