There is disquiet at the Lagos State University (LASU) over a renewed face-off between the institution’s chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the management, over plans to deal with some alleged erring lecturers
The new development is not unconnected with the possible outcome of ongoing investigations into various allegations of sex scandal and theft of documents against six lecturers of the university, including three leaders of the institution’s chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The concerned lecturers being tried for violating the university’s purported law against unauthorised possession and use of documents include the trio of Dr. Tony Dansu, Mr. Adeolu Oyekan and Dr. Kemi Abodunrin-Shonibare, who are the ASUU Secretary, Assistant Secretary and Treasurer respectively.
Three other lecturers accused by the students of sexually molesting them, are an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry, Dr. Isiaka Ogunwande; a Lecturer of Anatomy at the university’s College of Medicine, Ikeja, Dr. Gbeleyi Emmanuel, and another Associate Professor of Economics at the university’s main campus in Ojo, Dr. Sunkanmi Odubunmi.
Investigations by New Telegraph have revealed that when the Prof. Adebayo Ninalowo-led Governing Council of the university reconvenes in the first week of October, its verdict on these cases might not be good for the embattled lecturers.
Thus, ahead of the planned release of the report of the findings, ASUU has been mobilising support for its members, and particularly the three union leaders, accusing the university management of dictatorship and mission to violently exterminate the union on the campus.
It would be recalled that the university’s chapter of ASUU had petitioned the Governing Council, accusing the immediate past Registrar of the institution, Mr. Akinwunmi Lewis, of illegally backdating the professorial promotion of the incumbent Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun.
The petition, which was signed by the duo of Dansu and Oyekan, accused Mr. Lewis of misinterpreting the decision of the Council, which was taken on May 7, 2014 to promote the vice-chancellor by backdating the promotion to 2008.
The perceived ‘effrontery’ of the union to attach a document classified as ‘confidential’ and containing the purported Governing Council’s decision, irked the university management, which challenged the authors of the petition to produce the source of the documents.
The management accused the leadership of ASUU of unauthorised use of the document which was believed to have been illegally taken from Fagbohun’s file in the Office of the Dean of the Faculty of Law, Prof. Fabunmi Adeleke.
The attached document allegedly shows the stamp of the dean’s office, and it has been established that the original copy in the file is now missing.
But, the dean of the faculty who is also facing panel over the release of the document, has dissociated himself from the leakage, accusing the leadership of ASUU of engaging in illegality punishable under the law.
In a letter personally addressed to the leadership of ASUU on the matter, a copy of which New Telegraph obtained through a source, Adeleke accused the union of subjecting him to public ridicule and that the action has made people to doubt his integrity.
According to him, as member of the Governing Council, representing the union, he finds it extremely difficult to exonerate himself, but advised the union to return the document to his office. He said the faculty is the one accusing ASUU leadership of theft of document, which he noted is a criminal offence.
He told New Telegraph that until the document is returned, he would have nothing to do with the current leadership of the union on the campus, while insisting that he is a proud member of ASUU.
The letter reads in part; “Section 59 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State provides: Any person in the public service, who publishes or communicates fact which comes to his knowledge by virtue of his office, and which it is his duty to keep secret, or any document which comes to his possession by virtue of his office and it is his duty to keep secret, except to some person to who he is bound to publish or communicate it, is guilty of misdemeanor, and is liable to imprisonment for two years.”
On her part, the Treasurer of the union, Dr. Abodunrin-Shonibare, a Senior Lecturer, had written to challenge the alleged delay in her promotion, and attached a document said to be the decision of the Governing Council approving the promotion. She is also being accused of theft and being tried for unauthorised use of documents.
The three other lecturers, who are accused of sexual molestation, have reportedly appeared before the investigative panels set up by the university management.
New Telegraph, however, learnt the panel had subsequently turned in its reports on the different cases to the Joint Committee of the university’s Council and Senate, which had in turn submitted its recommendations to the Council.
One of the accused, Dr. Odubunmi was arrested by the institution’s security operatives while allegedly sexually harassing a female student of the Economics Department in his office on a Saturday.
The arrest took place exactly three days to the lecturer’s promotion interview for full professorship.
New Telegraph also learnt that Dr. Odubunmi had allegedly invited his victim to his office on the said Saturday to rewrite a failed examination paper, and had in the process, after locking the door, removed his shirt and started romancing the unnamed student.
Further investigations by New Telegraph revealed that it was unknown to the lecturer that the student had been bugged with secret cameras, and was being monitored by officers of the university in another office close to Odubunmi’s office.
According a source, who craved anonymity, the student, who was disturbed by the persistent pressure from the lecturer, had approached a Lagos-based Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) to seek intervention. The NGO was said to have notified the university management, which in turn promised to ‘play along’ so as to catch the lecturer red-handed.
The source further added: “Odubunmi invited the student to his office on the said Saturday to rewrite the course he said she failed. So, as soon as the girl entered, he was handed the answer booklet and the question papers.
“As soon as the girl was settling down to write, Odubunmi locked the door safely and began to UnCloth. He began by caressing the student but as soon as he was moving near ‘dangerous zones,’ the girl showed resistance and while attempting to adjust her glasses for proper coverage, the lecturer suspected and shouted loudly accusing the girl of attempting to rope him.
“He immediately seized the eyeglasses and broke it into pieces in the process.”
The allegation against Ogunwande is also similar, and according to sources within the university system, the lecturer has owned up, and may be sacked.
“The unfortunate thing is that Ogunwande is one of the shining stars of the university. A very brilliant lecturer and it is a mystery that he could fall into such trap,” the source told New Telegraph.
Meanwhile, the third lecturer, Gbeleyi, had allegedly injected his victims, sedating them in a laboratory before allegedly having sexual intercourse with them.
Two of her students, one of whom is a daughter of another worker in the university, had petitioned the management, narrating their experiences with the lecturer.
But, efforts of New Telegraph to speak with any of the three alleged randy lecturers proved abortive as their phones rang without response.
Only Ogunwande’s line did not go through, while text messages sent to Gbeleyi was not replied as at the time of filing this report.
However, four zones of ASUU, last Thursday, held a congress in LASU over the development, and called on the leadership of the university and the Governor of the state and Visitor to the university, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, to call the Prof. Fagbohun-led management to order.
The leadership of the zones, comprising Lagos, Akure, Ibadan and Benin, also on Friday converged on the state government Secretariat at Alausa, Lagos, where they staged a peaceful protest, demanding a visitation panel to the university, to unravel the real reasons behind the purported actions of the management against its members.
The group carried placards with various inscriptions such as; “ASUU is for peace and justice”; “Fagbohun respect LASU laws and regulations”; “Fagbohun, Ninalowo leave ASUU-LASU alone”; and “Fagbohun is a political professor.”
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, the South-West Zonal Coordinator of ASUU, Prof. Sowande Olusiji, said it was unbelievable that accusers are now being threatened for exposing an act of illegality.
Sowande, who was the convener of the congress, said what LASU Governing Council was expected to do was to investigate the allegation and not the source of the information as a way to rope the whistle-blowers in order to suppress the activities of the union and operate with impunity.
He said: “But, ASUU can never be caged. We have the rights to associate and express opinions. So, castigating our members for being in possession of documents of any worker in our universities especially in this era of freedom of information law shouldn’t arise.”
The protesters called for a halt to the work of the Appointment, Promotion and Disciplinary Panel set up by the university authority to probe the three ASUU-LASU executive members.
However, the university management has appealed to the national leadership of ASUU to always investigate matters brought to it by its members before jumping into conclusion.
It accused the union of unjustly accusing the vice-chancellor, saying Fagbohun is not the same as the Governing Council that takes final decisions on such matters.
A source among the management members of the university, who craved anonymity, also said the petition to the Council against the vice-chancellor’s promotion was not just baseless, but a futile attempt for a reprisal attack on him by the union over the sack of its Chairman and Vice-Chairman, Dr. Isaac Oyewunmi and Dr. Adebowale Adeyemi-Suenu.
The duo were part of 15 staffers of the university, who were relieved of their appointments exactly one year ago for allegedly committing various offences. Oyewunmi was dismissed for allegedly demanding N50,000 from students while Adeyemi-Suenu was sacked for allegedly unilaterally altering the results of 12 students already advised to withdraw from the university by Senate.
Also speaking, the Head of the university’s Centre for Information, Press and Public Relations, Mr. Ademola Adekoya, said the university’s laws penalises the unauthorised release of confidential documents.
He said the peaceful atmosphere on the campus has ensured stable academic calendar, and that the efforts of the new management to instill discipline and build a culture of sanity are only being resisted by some individuals.
He said the university will not be distracted by the antics of a few workers, saying they should allow law to take its course as regards the actions and inactions of members of the university community.
He said: “The documents are confidential; where did they get them? The illegality must be corrected first. Any attempt to check somebody’s file is misconduct. It is there in the condition of service that if you do this, there is a sanction for it.
“No one can accuse the vice-chancellor of impunity. He believes in the rule of law and his case is more compounded by his promotion as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN)-designate. He believes what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. The Vice-Chancellor believes any society where rule of law thrives, progress is assured.”