The Senior Staff of Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) has called for suspension of Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta’s (FUNAAB), Vice Chancellor, Prof. Olusola Oyewole and two other senior officials over alleged N800 million fraud.
The Chairman of SSANU, Saheed Oseni, in Lagos State University (LASU), who made the appeal on Wednesday, urged Federal Government to ask the three principal officials of the institution to vacate their positions temporarily, in an effort to force them to display integrity of character.
Oseni said the call for suspension was a necessity borne out of arraignment of the trio in court, by Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) for alleged corruption.
It would be recalled that the EFCC had arraigned the FUNAAB Pro-Chancellor/Governing Council Chairman, Sen. Adeseye Ogunlewe, Oyewole, and Bursar, Moses Illesanmi, in Abeokuta on November 25.
It was gathered that they were arraigned before Justice Oluwole Majekodunmi at an Ogun High Court, in Abeokuta, based on petition by some of the university workers and they were facing 18-count charge bordering on alleged stealing, abuse of office, and fraudulent conversion of university’s properties to personal use.
Oseni who reiterated the association’s plea to Federal Government, said best thing the government could do would be to direct the three officers to step aside, until the court trials were officially over.
“At the moment, the trio must step aside so that investigation will not be tampered with, therefore we appeal to the Federal Government to take the action, as it is in the best position.’’ he said.
The SSANU official also urged the Federal Government to direct reinstatement of its members in FUNAAB who had been allegedly sacked unjustly by the school’s governing council, for writing petition to the EFCC.
He justified the association’s demand, saying that since the officials were being reportedly prosecuted based on the petition, the sacked workers should be recalled without further delay.
“The staff were not issued query nor asked to appear before staff disciplinary committee and the governing council did not investigate the allegations against the VC before sacking them. We are happy that the EFCC charged the pro-chancellor, VC and bursar to court for corruption.
“It shows that our members who wrote the petition were right and victimised by the governing council and the VC. It was after the first invitation by the EFCC over the allegation, that the council chairman and the VC went back to the school and sacked the staff who wrote the petition,’’ he said.
The SSANU-LASU chairman advised the EFCC to protect whistle blowers so that workers in the establishment would not be reluctant to expose corrupt practices for fear of victimisation.
Oseni also appealed to the FG to extend investigation into other institutions, adding that doing so was necessary because, corruption in the universities had gradually become worse, than what played out in other establishments in the public sector.
He re-emphasized need to prosecute all university administrators who were found wanting, stressing that some Vice Chancellors allegedly acted recklessly and outside their jurisdictions.
“Government has given the VCs too much power and some of them see themselves as demigod which has made corruption going on in the Nigeria university system too much. However, we believe that SSANU is the only union challenging their excesses.’’ he said.
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