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VC orders closure of ASUU secretariat in UNIPORT

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Tension has continued to mount at the University of Port Harcourt as the Vice Chancellor, Professor Ndowa Lale, finally orders the closure of the secretariat of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

Lale, who has been having a running battle with ASUU over the termination of Professor Frank Ugiomoh’s appointment, said his decision was based on claims to the ownership of the secretariat between ASUU and the Congress of University Academics (CONUA).

ASUU Chairman, Dr. Austen Sado, told The Guardian that it was preposterous for the Vice Chancellor to have ordered the closure of the secretariat on the basis of a claim by a parallel group that is not recognised a trade union in the country.

“I do not know any law in this country that allows somebody to lock another man’s property. We appreciate the fact that the property is within the university campus, but the building is the sweat of our members.

“We hear that that there is a claim that another group is claiming part ownership of this property and on the basis of that the vice chancellor ordered that our secretariat be sealed.

“This group they are referring to is not known to the law. CONUA is not a registered trade union known to any law in this country. But the university administration, just as it ordered security men to take us away from our meeting, has also done this,” he said.

It would be recalled that some students of the university led by Sowari Dikibo, had last week stormed ASUU secretariat and disrupted it meeting, before using chains and padlock to seal off the place, which was later removed by ASUU members.

A letter ASUU wrote to the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of the university, Osarollo Sunday, revealed that CONUA had planned to hold its meeting at the secretariat last Friday at the same time ASUU had scheduled its meeting.

“I am also aware that there is a new body known and addressed as CONUA, formed from ASUU. This body which comprises academics, who I gather are no longer comfortable with ASUU’s ideologies, have also written to me, informing my office of their intention to hold their meeting on at the same venue.

“On this note, it is my duty to inform you that allowing these parallel meetings to hold at the same venue simultaneously, may result to anarchy and total breakdown of law and order within the university community.

“Consequently, it is advised that these meetings should be suspended forthwith pending the amicable resolution from both parties,” he said.

University spokesman, Dr. Williams Wodi, told The Guardian that it was on the basis of the planned parallel meetings that the Vice Chancellor contacted the Choba Area Command of the Police, who advised that the secretariat should be sealed off for the time being pending when ASUU and CONUA resolve their differences.


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