The Academic Staff Union of Universities of the Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike in Abia State, has endorsed the decision by the university last month to disengage over 400 workers.
The university teachers said the affected workers were engaged on temporary basis, which under the laws of the university could not extend beyond 12 calendar months.
They noted that in line with the provisions of the Federal University of Agriculture laws, the vice-chancellor only has the power to make temporary appointments to academic and non-academic positions for a period not exceeding 12 calendar months.
The teachers stated this position in a statement by their union, ASUU, signed by its chairperson, C.A Echendu, and Secretary, F.A Nkaa, and made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Monday.
The association said it was clearly indicated in the appointment letters of the temporary appointees that their appointments would terminate automatically after one year.
“The claim that MOUAU sacked over 400 staff is an utter falsehood and totally misleading.
“The appointments of these temporary appointees automatically expired on its own as provided for in the extant laws of the university and as clearly stated in their appointment letters.”
PREMIUM TIMES had reported the controversy over the termination of the appointments of the 496 workers.
The lecturers urged the federal government to conduct a forensic staff and financial audit of the the university from March 1, 2011 to February 29, 2016 to get to the roots of the crisis of the institution.
They said they had written to the pro-chancellor and chairman of governing council of the institution, Anya Oko, on March 20, 2014 to complain that the former vice chancellor, Hillary Edeoga, was breaching due process and abusing his power to make temporary appointments.
“The use of temporary appointments to fill academic staff vacancies has become the rule rather than giving the university the opportunity of giving candidates equal opportunity and selecting the best and most suitable candidates. We believe that a competitive selection process is the best option for recruiting high calibre faculty and administrative staff,” they quoted the letter as statin
The union said it also wrote a petition on August 5, 2015 to the visitor of the school, President Muhammadu Buhari, that Mr. Edeoga had single-handedly, under the guise of the instrument of temporary employment, recruited over 1000 staff.
The union said the former “governing council under Anya Oko as chairman swept the matter under the carpet until January 29, 2015 when it was compelled by the deepening crisis to set up a cosmetic committee headed by a member of that council, Rasheed Ojikutu, to investigate the petition from ASUU MOUAU.”
According to the union, a fact-finding committee sent to the institution in December 2015, sequel to the petition to President Buhari, cautioned in its report that “the power to make temporary appointments should be exercised responsibly.
“The report recommended that the governing council should revisit the entire process of appointments and promotions with a view to determining in specific and clear terms whether there are infractions, and in established cases of infraction, take decisions that may be deemed appropriate.”
It said although the Federal Ministry of Education upheld the recommendation of the fact-finding committee and directed that the governing council should revisit the entire process of appointment and promotion, the council failed to comply with the directive formally conveyed by the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu.
The union said it had also written to the new governing council on June 20, demanding that fractional payment of salary should cease immediately and that the council should take immediate steps to redress weighty issues that border on “impunity by the former vice chancellor and Anya-led governing council.”