Angered by the suspension of the executive of the Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma ( AAU) and alleged maladministration, the local chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) took to streets on Wednesday to protest against the authorities.
Led by the chairman, Dr. Monday Igbafen and secretary, Dr. A. Aizebioje-Coker who were recently suspended by the institution, the teachers were armed with placards with inscriptions such as “Success Commeth After Struggle”, “Onimawo Leave Igbafen and ASUU Alone”, ASUU AAUE Has Lost Confidence In Onimawo And His Tyrannical Administration”, “ASUU AAUE Say No To Harassment And Intimidation”, “VC AAUE Pay Us Our Full salaries”, “Onimawo Has Murdered Sleep, You Will Sleep No More” amongst others.
The lecturers sang anti-management songs and marched through the Benin-Auchi road and terminated at the main gate of the campus where they took turns to express their grievances.
Igbafen who was suspended over an allegation of sexual harassment insisted that the action and the suspension of Aizebioje-Coker by the authorities were based on trumped-up charges.
The activist pointedly accused the vice-chancellor, Prof. Ignatius Onimawo first accusing him of sexual harassment which he could not substantiate, adding that with the trend of events it was obvious that the authorities were after the soul of the union.
He accused the vice-chancellor of planning to run the university the way he likes without due process, rule of law and best practices but the union’s stout opposition was the beginning of the problem.
Igbafen charged that his principled stand as regards accountability of the huge amount of money accruing to the university drew the ire of the authorities who decided to slam him with allegations of sexual harassment earlier in the year.
He said, “On the basis of that, he raised an allegation of sexual harassment against me. I was found guilty of the offence. We took the matter to court and the court said the matter will be determined and ordered that I should be called back. Less than 24 hours after the VC recalled me, he suspended me not for sexual harassment this time but for externalising the union.
“For us, we no longer have confidence in the vice-chancellor. We’ll continue to resist the reign of tyranny in this institution.”
He continued: “The matter is already before the state government. We have written to the state government through the council. We want the state government to act fast before the VC takes the institution backwards.”
Speaking in the same vein, the Coordinator of ASUU, Benin Zone, Prof. Fred Esuma deplored the sudden summer examination currently holding in the school in clear violation of the university’s Senate position on the matter, the introduction of casualisation amongst others.