Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has taken the battle for the reinstatement of 113 lecturers of the Kogi State University, Anyigba to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria in Abuja.
The lecturers were sacked four years ago by Governor Yahaya Bello following their refusal to return to work after the Governor proscribed the school’s chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
The 113 lecturers from across all the departments said they have been thrown into “abysmal suffering and languishing in court.”
Dr Daniel Aina who is the Chairman of the proscribed KSU branch of ASUU, disclosed that the case had been scheduled for the NICN in Abuja today, Wednesday.
“We are appearing in court on July 28, 2021 and Femi Falana, SAN, is standing in for us. In fact, part of our story is that after being in court for two years from 2017 and 2019, our case was thrown out, because the papers filed by our lawyer were purportedly not sealed by the court registry.
“New cases were filed in 2019. Series of objections were again raised by the government and the university in order for the cases not to be heard.
“On July 12, 2021, the court, however, ruled against all preliminary objections against our cases and they are now for hearing on July 28.
“Currently, there exists a situation where a lecturer supervises between 40 and 50 undergraduate projects. In several departments, postgraduate programmes have folded up, and where they seem to exist, they are being handled by unqualified persons. In some departments, a number of PhD and Master’s students did their external defence without the knowledge of their major supervisors,” he said.
Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, on Wednesday said the proscribed Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) at the Kogi State University (KSU), Anyigba, has been behaving like a political party in opposition in the state.
The governor proscribed the union July 2017 for failing to suspend its seven months strike after the government reportedly met 90 per cent of its demands.
Speaking with State House correspondents at the end of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) meeting held at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, four years ago, Bello said the proscription is an inevitable surgical operation to develop education in the state.
He said: “It is more or less a comatose institution. And in a bid to resuscitate it, we need to carry out certain surgical operation in order to make educational sector in Kogi State healthy. And education is one of the focal points of our administration. We did the screening exercise and several other things.
“Now, ASUU came up with several other bodies with certain demands. Some pre-dated my administration and to the best of our judgement as an administration we were able to meet up to 90 per cent of these demands. And in a collective bargain, both parties should shift ground.
“And the way and manner ASUU Kogi State Chapter was going about it, it is more or less like a political party that was in opposition. Apparently, there are certain forces from certain areas that were pushing. However, that wouldn’t be my concern.
“But my concern particularly is that certain amount of demands that were put forward, among which is salaries, had been paid fully. And the institution has been on strike for almost seven months now.
“Now, the question is government owes you seven months, government has paid you seven months among other demands. But there is one important thing that you are owing the critical stakeholders in education that you can never pay back, which is the time of the children, the time of our young ones, the time of the students that have been wasted that you can never give back.
“I appealed to them to return back on or before the end of this month and that we will pay all outstanding arrears. Other institutions resumed. But what is more amazing and disturbing is that in the course of interacting with them, in the presence of all stakeholders including the Attah of Igala, the Acting Chairman of ASUU made a remark that even if we meet 100 per cent demand of ASUU, we only succeeded in minimizing the incidence of strike in the institution, meaning he went further to explain that if everything is normal in the institution and the National body of ASUU desire to on strike for whatever reason, ASUU- KSU will join the strike action.
“And I think that is most irresponsible and they are not sensitive to the plight of parents, the students and even the future of the young ones.”