The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Tuesday in Abuja said the recent removal of 12 vice-chancellors of federal universities by the federal government amounted to a violation of the law.
The ASUU president, Nasir Isa, stated this while briefing journalists on the “state of the nation”.
On February 12, the federal government announced the removal of the vice-chancellors and appointment of their replacements.
Mr. Isa said ASUU National Executive Council received the news with a lot of concern due to its implication for due process, university autonomy and the growth and development of universities.
“Going by the provisions of the Nigerian University Miscellaneous (Amendment) Act 2003, only the Governing Councils are bestowed with the powers of appointing and removing vice-chancellors.
“The latest action in these universities has justified our consistent demand for proper governance structure and process in Nigerian university system.
“In the first place, vice-chancellors were arbitrarily appointed into these institutions and the governing councils instituted without making their enabling law public.
“We are worried that the same cycle of illegality is playing out again.
“In a university where there is the law, only the governing council is empowered to remove a vice-chancellor from office for a good cause,” Mr. Isa said.
He said only a council had the power to appoint a vice-chancellor in accordance with the law.
The ASUU president also said on the appointment of a vice-chancellor, the council would only select the vice-chancellor and inform the visitor.
He said as stated in the University Amendment Act of 2003, 4 (b), the council shall select and appoint as vice-chancellor, one candidate from among three candidates recommended to it and thereby inform the visitor.
He said the vice-chancellor could only be removed from office by the governing council on grounds of conduct or inability to discharge the function of the office.
“This could be as a result of infirmity of the body or mind, at the initiative of the council, senate or the congregation after due process.
“We, therefore, call on the federal government to toe the path of legality and due process by gazetting the law appointing the councils,” he said.
He said the government should mandate “the councils to immediately commence the process of appointing new vice-chancellors for the affected universities.”
Mr. Isa however said the removal of the vice-chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria was in conformity with the Amendment Act of 2003.
He said the act provides five years non-renewable tenure for a vice-chancellor in the Nigerian university system.
“This act particularly applies to all federally-funded universities in Nigeria, inclusive of NOUN.
“Since the vice chancellor had served a five-year term, he should not be given an extended term of even one day.
“Fair and just institution abhor ad hoc laws tailored to the advantage of special individuals,” he said.