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ASUU denies calling off strike as Ojukwu varsity crisis deepens

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The Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU) branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities has denied calling off its strike to force the authorities agree to increase lecturers’ pay.

The group is also demanding increased funding of the Anambra State-owned school and provision of infrastructure for online teaching and learning, among others. COOU students were forced to stay at home after the Federal Government shut down all schools in March due to COVID-19 outbreak.

The Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof Gregory Nwakoby, had asked the students to return to school on September 21, after the Federal Government confirmed a drop in the number of new coronavirus cases in the country.

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However, ASUU asked the lecturers to boycott classes until their demands were met. But some lecturers on Tuesday backed out of the strike and returned to work, insisting that COOU had its peculiarities and that it was impossible to sustain the strike.

Addressing a news conference in Awka yesterday, ASUU COOU Chairman, Alphonsius Aniebo, and Secretary, David Enibe, said the union had not called off the strike.

Aniebo, who labelled the group led by Prof. Osita Chiaghanam “illegal”. He said the association led by Chiaghanam had no mandate to speak for ASUU members in the institution.

Aniebo alleged that Nwakoby used security men to molest some of the lecturers because of a press conference they held September 18.

“This time around he (VC) has revived an illegal group he rightly outlawed at the inception of his administration and has put his dictatorial machinery in motion to bar ASUU from holding meetings on the three campuses of the university,” he alleged.

Aniebo said the union would only call off the strike when their demands were met.

“No worker in COOU has received earned academic allowances(EAA), arrears of salaries, government component of pension, and consequential difference of the new minimum wage,” the chairman said.

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