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Alleged illegal composition of governing council may mar selection of UNIPORT’s VC


Indications have emerged that perceived illegal composition of the governing council of the University of Port Harcourt may mar selection of the institution’s next Vice Chancellor this year.

Some academics under the aegis of the Committee of UNIPORT Stakeholders have accused the Vice Chancellor, Professor Ndowa Sunday Lale, of misleading the Senate and congregation to violate the provisions of the University Act CAP U13.

The Act clearly spelt out “Mode of exercising power to make statutes” by the illegal reduction of the tenure of Senate and congregation representatives in the governing council from four to two years in violation of the Act establishing the university.

In a petition made available to The Guardian, the group alleged that the university had been running with an illegally composed internal membership of the Governing Council since 2017, insisting that Lale misled the Senate and congregation to reduce the tenure of internal members of council to two years instead of the statutory four-year tenure.

They said while the university’s Act empowered the council, Senate and congregation to make statutes, adding that it also provides that “It shall not come into operation unless it has been approved by the President of the country.

“We recall that the issue was even a matter of an existing judicial pronouncement in the case of Messrs. Fredrick Alasia Vs the University of Port Harcourt where the Plaintiff (Fredrick Alasia) challenged the abridgement of his four-year tenure in the Governing Council after its dissolution in which he was serving as Federal Government’s representative of Senate.”

The stakeholders explained that prior to the dissolution of the governing council, there was a subsisting Senate of the university’s decision that in the event of the dissolution of council, such dissolution would not affect the remaining tenure of its representative when the council was eventually reconstituted.

To this end, they said Alasia relied on this and the Court ruled in his favour against the university, among other claims.

They wondered that while this would have been taken as a settled matter in law, the university engaged in impunity when on assumption of office, Lale opted to muscle the Senate and congregation out and ensured that his anointed members were selected into the Governing Council.

Meanwhile, spokesperson of the University, Williams Wodi, said it was not true that the Vice Chancellor had altered the tenure of council members in order to pave way for his preferred candidate.

That is an argument for a five-year toddler. Only the President appoints and sacks university councils. Vice Chancellors do not have such powers enshrined in the university Act.

“Councils serve at the whims and caprices of the President and those spreading such falsehood know this existential truth. All previous VCs have followed the same process. There is no illegality committed,” he said.

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