The Federal Government has sacked the Vice Chancellors of 12 federal universities established by the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Also affected by the sack is the Vice Chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria, Prof. Vincent Tenebe.
In the statement announcing the sack, the government gave no reason for the action.
A short statement by the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu in Abuja, on Saturday, simply said President Muhammadu Buhari, had approved the appointment of new Vice Chancellors for the Universities.
But the decision is already generating ripples, with some members of the intelligentsia claiming that it is only the Governing Council of NOUN of which Mr Tenebe is a member, that could only remove him.
A human rights organisation, Coalition of Civil Society Groups has protested against the sack in a letter to Buhari, demanding the reversal of the decision in which the NOUN VC was replaced with Prof. Abdalla Uba Adamu of the Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano.
The substantive Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State, Prof. Mohammed Kundiri, was transferred to the Federal University, Wukari, Taraba State.
The CCSG in its protest letter to Buhari signed by its President, Etuk Bassey Williams and Secretary-General, Ibrahim Abubakar, said the action contravenes the provisions of the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act No.11 of 1993 (as amended) by decree No.25, 1996 and further amended in 2003 and 2012 respectively and other agreements as contained in the 2009 FGN staff union agreement.
The petitioners said that four out of the twelve appointed VCs are from Kano University, an action they said, was a clear violation of the federal character principle.
“While this does not come as a surprise owing to the influence of one of the Special Advisers to the Minister of Education in orchestrating the appointments of his friends and cronies without following due process, we are however concerned about the constitutional breach and the resultant litigation battle this action may cause, which in turn may generate unnecessary distractions to your focused administration”, tcoalition said.
The petition reads, “We are compelled to call your attention owing to the illegality in the removal of Vice Chancellors of 13 Federal Universities including the National Open University of Nigeria and the hasty appointment of friends and cronies in place of those illegally removed from office.
“While we are not unmindful of the fact that you would have acted on the recommendation of the Minister of Education in approving their removal, it is pertinent to know that in the pursuit of ambition driven by unguided passion and greed, impunity becomes inevitable as the end irrespective of the means is all that matters and in this case, the removal of these Vice Chancellors is the outcome of an unguided passion and greed by the Minister of Education and his Special Adviser.
“The constitution is quite clear on the procedures to be followed in the appointment and disengagement of Vice Chancellors and none of these procedures were followed in the above case.
“The appointment of Vice Chancellors is a tenured appointment, which presupposes that every appointee is expected to serve the prescribed number of years as stipulated by the Acts governing the institutions.
The organisation regretted that none of the Vice Chancellors were allowed to complete their tenures and were all removed without following due process of the law.
The CCSG said that in the event that a Vice Chancellor was to be removed from office before the expiration of his tenure, it is the Board of the Governing Council that is empowered to recommend or effect that removal of an erring Vice Chancellor before the completion of his term in office.
The group said, “In the above case, the Minister already dissolved the Board of the Governing Council with the statutory powers to recommend or effect the removal of a Vice Chancellor from office thereby making the removal of these Vice Chancellors illegal, null and void.
“In appointing new Vice Chancellors or any public officer for that matter, it is an offence and a breach of the Federal Character principle for one third of the total appointees to come from a particular State.
“The action of the Minister is greeted with sadness as it is considered a breach of the provisions of the University Amendment Act or legislation and to a large extent a gross violation of the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which guarantees universities autonomy in Nigeria.”
According to the public statement conveying the sack of the VCs, a former Head, Department of International Relations at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Prof. Kayode Soremekun, who was said to be on Sabbatical in NOUN is the new Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State.
While the Federal University, Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State has Prof. Auwal Yadudu of the Faculty of Law, Bayero University, Kano as its new VC; Prof. Fatima Batoul Muktar of the Department of Biology, North West University, Kano, is the VC of Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State.
A lecturer in the Department of Pharmacy, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Prof. Haruna Abdu Kaita is the new VC of Federal University, Dutsin Ma, Katsina State, while Prof. Andrew Haruna of the Department of Linguistics, University of Jos will now function as VC, Federal University, Gashua, Yobe State.
While another lecturer in the Department of Pharmacy, ABU, Zaria, Prof. Magaji Garba, will now be VC in Federal University, Gusau, Zamfara State, Prof. Alhassan Mohammed Gani of the Institute of Maritime Studies, Federal University, Kashere in Gombe State has been elevated to the position of VC in same University.
A lecturer in the Department of Physics, Federal University, Lafia, Prof. Muhammad Sanusi Liman will henceforth be VC of same institution.
For Prof. Angela Freeman Miri of the Linguistics Department, UNIJOS, her new portfolio is the Federal University, Lokoja where she will now be VC.
The Federal University, Ndifu-Alike, Ebonyi State, now has Prof. Chinedum Nwajiuba of the Post-Graduate School, Imo State University, Owerri, as its VC, while Prof. Seth Accra Jaja of the Department of Management, University of Port Harcourt is now the VC of Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa State.