LASU lecturers petition Ambode over alleged diversion of staff pension by VC, pro-chancellor

The Lagos State University (LASU)
The Lagos State University (LASU)

Following a PREMIUM TIMES’ investigation that revealed how the vice chancellor of Lagos State University, Olanrewaju Fagbohun, and pro-chancellor of the university, Adebayo Ninalowo, diverted N198 million from the staff pension fund of the university, the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) in the institution has written to Lagos State governor and the university’s visitor, Akinwunmi Ambode, to probe the school’s management.

The union said the intervention of the visitor is imperative at this time to stop the alleged illegalities and arbitrariness prevalent in the university.

In the letter dated May 13, signed by Tony Dansu, the secretary of the ASUU-LASU, and his deputy, Adeola Oyekan, the union said it was the 29th letter it had written to Mr Ambode in the last 26 months. It added the governor has failed to act on any of the previous letters.

The union cited the PREMIUM TIMES Investigation, which revealed how the university’s management diverted N198million out of the N689 million it illegally withdrew from an escrow to purchase 12 luxury vehicles under the guise of using the fund toward the accreditation of some academic programmes in the university.

The account contained the contributory pension of the institution’s employees.

In the letter to the governor, the union said the revelation showed that the vice chancellor and the pro-chancellor went beyond the limits of the funds they are authorised to approve.

“We are aware that the personal approval limits of the Vice Chancellor and the Pro-Chancellor are N5 million and N20 million respectively,” the letter reads in part.

“From the records displayed by Premium Times and the Vice-Chancellor, executive approval made for expenditure under contention were N215 million and N474 million (N689 Million) before the Governing Council Post purchase approval were approved one after the other. The second tranche was not discussed with the finance and General Purpose Committee of the Governing Council contrary to the regulations.”

The union accused Mr Fagbohun of not respecting the university’s law. It claimed that the pro-chancellor was working hand-in-glove with the vice-chancellor and providing cover for him.

“We are still at loss on how the Chairman of the Council, Professor Adebayo Ninalowo, who himself is a professor in a nearby university, with pension savings, would under any circumstances show fealty the Vice Chancellor by sanctioning the misappropriation of the pension fund of members of staff.”

The union also accused Obafela Bank-Olemoh, the special adviser of the governor on education, who is in charge of Tertiary Institutions in the state, of keeping mum on issues concerning LASU. It said Mr Bank-Olemoh had rebuffed several attempts by the union to speak with the governor.

The lecturers, therefore, called on the governor to set up a visitation panel to look into “the increasing level of lawlessness” in the university.

“By law, a visitation is due every five years. The last visitation panel of the Lagos State University was in 2009. Beyond the legal imperative, however, the increasing level of lawlessness of the incumbent university administration makes it important for the Visitor to independently conduct an inquiry into the affairs of the university over the last 10 years.”

Similarly, it called on the governor to investigate the illegal withdrawal of fund from staff pension fund.

“We are aware that the pension funds of many tertiary institutions have been tampered with at the detriment of the post-service welfare of workers. Our Union cannot risk this for our members. We, therefore, demand for an independent investigation panel to look into these serious allegations and re-assure us of the safety of our retirement benefits. For transparency and confidence -building representatives of the Staff Union should be included in the panel,” it stated.

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