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Students seal off UNIPORT’s ASUU secretariat, chase away officials

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Students of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) yesterday invaded the secretariat of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), sealed it off and chased away lecturers and members of staff.ASUU has meanwhile blamed the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Ndowa Lale, whom it accused of despotism and impunity of instigating the students to invade and seal off its secretariat.

ASUU Chairman, Dr. Austen Sado and other officials were billed to addressed journalists yesterday on the Congress of University Academics (CONUA) endorsement of the controversial Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) and others issues when suddenly the Students’ President, Sowari Dikibo, led others to disrupt the briefing.

The students ostensibly predicated their decision to storm ASUU secretariat and seal it off on the basis that the union wanted to formally declare a strike over the termination of the appointment of Prof. Frank Ugiomoh, whom the university management accused of meddlesomeness in a panel set up to investigate allegation of harassment by two doctorial students against their supervisor and the vexed IPPS issue.

The students then went to the staff canteen and asked those eating to leave. Afterwards, they went from office to office directing workers also to leave the new ASUU-imposing secretariat.

Sensing the situation might descend into violence, the chairman asked officials of the union to proceed to a hotel in Choba where he addressed journalists.Sado, who accused the vice chancellor of instigating students against ASUU and backing CONUA with the intention to foment breakdown of law and order in the university, said it was not true that ASUU wanted to declare strike over IPPSS, Prof. Ugiomoh and other issues plaguing the university.He lamented that it was disheartening that university security officers could stand and watch students invade ASUU secretariat built by academics without restraining them.

ASUU chairman said the union members could not be coerced to enrol in the contentious IPPSS because academics in the university were almost done with a software that would address the issues for which government had given for the introduction of the policy.He said that CONUA, which had already endorsed IPPSS, was not a recognised union and does not pose a threat to ASUU.

Sado said it was quite unfortunate that the vice chancellor was forcing ASUU to make public the embarrassing state of despotism and impunity characterising the university since his assumption of office in 2015.He said that the termination of Ugoimoh’s appointment would remain a scar on the conscience of the vice chancellor.

But, spokesperson of the university, Dr. Williams Wodi, has denied all allegations levelled against the vice chancellor by ASUU, including the use of students to chase ASUU chairman and others out of the secretariat.He said it was laughable for anyone to accuse the vice chancellor of instigating crisis on campus, as he does not stand to benefit from instability on campus.


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