The Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Owerri (FUTO), Prof. Nnenna Oti, said the management had gone to court over the rejection of Dr. Isah Ibrahim Pantami’s promotion to the rank as a professor of Cyber Security by the institution.
This followed the threat by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to sanction FUTO management for approving Pantami as a professor while he is still in Federal Government’s active service as a minister.
Oti told The Nation on Monday, that the management went to court on the matter, saying any comment or discussion on it is subjudice.
But a senior management worker, who spoke in confidence, claimed that ASUU has no right to dabble into a matter it has no jurisdiction over.
“Just like ASUU does not tell the university council and its Senate who to promote, it cannot tell them the criteria for promoting somebody to rank of professor. In law, you cannot withdraw what you don’t have. ASUU does not regulate appointments and promotions. Some of these things are derived from NUC guidelines, and every university sets up its standard,” the source said.
The Academic Staff of Union of Universities (ASUU) had on Monday gaven its verdict on the professorship awarded to Nigeria’s minister of communications and digital economy, Isa Ibrahim, popularly known as Pantami, describing the appointment as illegal.
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At a media briefing held at the University of Lagos at the end of its two-day marathon meeting of the union’s National Executive Council (NEC), ASUU said the review of the processes that led to Mr Ibrahim’s appointment as a professor of Cybersecurity by the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), were against the laid-down procedures within the university system.
The union’s president, Emmanuel Osodeke, said: ”ASUU NEC rejects in its entirety the purported appointment of Dr Isah Ali Ibrahim Pantami as a professor of cybersecurity.
“From the evidence available to us, Dr Pantami was not qualified, and the said appointment violated established procedure for appointment of professors in the university.
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“NEC directs all members and branches of our union throughout the Nigerian federation not to recognize, accord or treat Dr Isah Ali Ibrahim Pantami as a professor of cybersecurity under any quise NEC.”
ASUU said the latest decision was a follow-up to an earlier decision taken in 2021 when it set up a committee to visit the university to investigate the circumstances leading to the appointment.
ASUU also said it will sanction all its members who may have taken part in the processes, saying such will serve as a deterrence to others.
“NFC also resolved to sanction all ASUU members who participated in the process that led to the illegal appointment in accordance with the established procedures of our union,” ASUU said.
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In September, 2021, Mr Ibrahim was among seven academics who were elevated by the council of FUTO to the position of professorship at the council’s 186th meeting.
The university, in a statement, listed others to include Lawrence Ettu as a professor of civil engineering; Godfrey Emeghara as a professor of maritime management technology; Okechukwu Onyelucheya as a professor of chemical engineering; Alex Opara and Chikwendu Okereke as professors of geology, among others.
The development had attracted controversy among Nigerians, especially academics, who felt the process leading to the appointment as “unprecedented and illegal.”
The university was also attacked by Nigerians and particularly scholars and activists, who described the minister’s appointment as patronising and “an assault to Nigeria’s academic system.”