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Court urged to void selection of UNIPORT vice-chancellor

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A federal High Court, Abuja has been asked to set aside the constitution of the selection committee for the appointment of a new vice-chancellor for the University of Port Harcourt.

The plaintiffs, Jideofor Nchekwube Emmanuel, Iroamaka Jeremiah and Jeffrey Okenne, claimed that the process was perfected before the advertisement of the vacancy, describing the action as anomalous, irregular and a breach of due process.

The three defendants – Pro-Chancellor of the university, vice-chancellor and the governing council – were accused of flagrantly violating due process in the appointment of the institution’s chief executive “contrary to Paragraph 4(2)(a) of First Schedule to the University Port Harcourt Act, 1979 Cap U13, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 Section 3(2)(a) Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Amendment Act 2003 and all existing protocols, precedents, rules and guidelines for the appointment of vice-chancellor in the University of Port Harcourt.”

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The applicants prayed the court to invalidate the action of the defendants for “permitting the incumbent vice chancellor to nominate and distribute a list of his preferred aspirants for council membership in the election of persons into council in the build-up to the appointment of vice-chancellor whilst at the same time presiding over the election as chief umpire.”

They insisted that act was unjust, unfair, immoral, arbitrary, whimsical, unconstitutional and a violation of the principles of natural justice.

Another order of court sought was the setting aside of “the action of the defendants in permitting/allowing the participation of a candidate for vice chancellor, Prof. Okey Onuchukwu, who is the fourth defendant in the suit, to participate and vote in the election of members of the selection or interview team that would interview him, himself being an aspirant or candidate and not demanding that he recused/excused himself from such an election that produced the selection or interview team.” They argued that allowing this would be prejudicial to other candidates, unjust, unfair, immoral, arbitrary and whimsical.

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