The Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, has suspended the remittance of check-off dues of members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in the university to the union’s account.
The Vice-Chancellor of LASU), Olanrewaju Fagbohun, said the action, which may have deepened the crisis between the university management and the leadership of ASUU, was a reaction to a petition by some members of the union accusing ASUU leadership of fraudulent practices.
But the union has denied the allegation, accusing the vice-chancellor of engaging in illegality, and that he was acting on wrong information.
In a statement signed by the Acting Head of the institution’s Centre for Information, Press and Public Relations (CIPPR), Ademola Adekoya, the university accused the union of retaining the sacked Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the union, Isaac Oyewunmi and Adebowale Adeyemi-Suenu, as signatories to the union’s accounts.
The statement further accused the union of ‘illegally’ paying the two lecturers N50,000 each monthly as allowances, despite Mr Oyewunmi allegedly taking up employment in an unnamed university following his dismissal from LASU.
The statement reads; “The Governing Council of the Lagos State University on the 7th of September, 2017 dismissed Dr. Isaac Oyewunmi (erstwhile Chairman of ASUU-LASU) for acts of misconduct bordering on extortion of money from students; and Dr. Adebowale Adeyemi-Suenu (erstwhile Vice-Chairman of ASUU-LASU) for acts of misconduct bordering on manipulation of students’ results. By virtue of their dismissal, they ceased to be members of ASUU-LASU from the 7th of September, 2017.
“The Management is in receipt of a petition signed by a number of members of ASUU-LASU which alleged that Dr. Isaac Oyewunmi is still part of those presently operating the Bank Account of ASUU-LASU despite being a staff of another Institution. Further, that both Dr. Oyewunmi and Dr. Adeyemi-Suenu have illegally been collecting monthly allowance of N50,000 (Fifty Thousand Naira) each from the general monthly deductions of members of ASUU-LASU. The petitioners further alleged that the Management is acting in concert with the Executive of ASUU-LASU to defraud members of ASUU-LASU.”
However, the university said the response of the union to its enquiry on the matter was not satisfactory, saying describing the matter as an internal affair of the union was not acceptable.
“The relevant financial Institutions have, however, confirmed that Dr. Oyewunmi as at 9th January 2019 is a signatory to the Bank Accounts of ASUU-LASU. The continued management and operation of ASUU-LASU Bank Accounts by Dr. Issac Oyewunmi borders on criminal conspiracy, fraud, and corruption. Management cannot allow the mechanisms of the university to be used to aid and abet fraud and corruption.
“In the circumstance, the vice-chancellor in the exercise of his supervisory and general responsibility to Council to maintain good order in the university has directed the immediate suspension of remittance of check-off dues of members of ASUU-LASU to ASUU-LASU Bank Accounts pending when the management and operation of the account(s) are properly regularised,” the statement added.
But in its reaction to the development, the LASU branch of ASUU advised the management to rescind the decision, insisting that the union’s operations are backed by Chapter 14 (Trade Union Act), Section 17 (a & b) of the Nigeria Labour Law.
In its response to the vice-chancellor, which is dated January 14 and signed by the Secretary and Assistant Secretary, Tony Dansu and Adeolu Oyekan, ASUU said in line with the constitution and extant practices of the union, only its National Executive Council (NEC) can determine and recognise the leadership of a branch and signatories to its account.
“In this instance, Dr. Isaac Oyewumi is the recognised Chairman in the ASUU-LASU branch of our union,” the letter said.
The letter, a copy of which was made available to PREMIUM TIMES, and titled; “Re: Allegation of Abetting Illegal Operation of ASUU–LASU Bank Account,” noted that both Messrs Oyewunmi and Adewale-Suenu were not on N50,000 monthly allowance from the union but are paid a ‘token’ from the union’s purse to support their upkeep pending the determination of the court case over their ‘illegal’ dismissal.
It reads in part; “…you would also recall that the purported dismissal of the Chairman is still a subject of litigation in a competent court of law. It is therefore expected that as a Senior Advocate and a law teacher for several years, you should know that this matter is Sub-judice. That “Dr. Isaac Oyewumi and Dr. Adebowale-Suenu have been collecting a monthly allowance of N50,000:00 each from the general monthly deductions of members of ASUU-LASU” is not only erroneous but clearly demonstrates a crass lack of understanding of the workings of our Great Union.
“For the avoidance of doubt, check-off deductions of all members including that of ASUU-LASU belong to the national body of our union and in line with its commitment to and solidarity with victimized members; it often gives a monthly stipend until the determination of their illegal dismissal by a competent court of law. ASUU-LASU is only discharging this obligation on behalf of the national body.
“Mr. Vice-Chancellor Sir, please be informed, that, contained in the union’s constitution is a grievance procedure for any member who feels strongly about how the finances of the union are being deplored. It is therefore shocking that the LASU Vice-Chancellor’s office intends to usurp this sacred responsibility of the National body which is unsolicited.”
But speaking with Premium Times, one of the aggrieved members of the union and Dean of the Faculty of Management Sciences, Babatunde Yusuf, said it was illegal for dismissed members of the union to continue to lead a union peopled by hundreds of members.
He said; “It is unacceptable for someone dismissed for corrupt practices to continue to run the affairs of our union and be receiving stipends from our deductions. It cannot stand, and that is why many members rose to write the petition.”