The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has said it has been vindicated by the recent victory of the former Vice-Chancellor, Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, Prof. Aize Obayan, at the Supreme Court against the University of Ilorin, Kwara State.
The President of the union, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, in an exclusive interview with New Telegraph expressed regret that a university, regarded as an institution of intellectuals has been reduced to an institution known for arbitrariness and disregard for rule of law.
This is as the university has also pledged to obey the ruling as soon as it is served by the court.
The Supreme Court, last week, set aside the 1999 sack of Obayan as a lecturer and Reader in the Department of Guidance and Counselling at the University of Ilorin.
The apex court, in a unanimous judgment by a five-man panel, led by Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, dismissed the appeal by the university, its Governing Council, Tunde Balogun (listed as the registrar) and Prof. Shuaib Oba Abdulraheem (listed as vice chancellor) for lacking in merit.
The court upheld the argument by Prof. Obayan’s lawyer, John Baiyeshea (SAN), and accepted the March 10, 2005 judgment given in her favour by the Court of Appeal and ordered that she be restored to her office and paid salaries, allowances and other entitlements from September 1999 (when she was sacked) to date.
New Telegraph learnt that Obayan, who was employed by the university as a lecturer in 1986, had applied in 1997 for sabbatical leave, which was approved by the institution’s Appointment and Promotion Committee. She then proceeded to the School of Psychology and Counselling, Rose Hampton Institute, London, for further studies.
At the expiration of her leave of absence, Obayan had reportedly requested for one-year extension and later, four-month extension of her leave, which the institution claimed to have rejected via a letter dated March 25, 1999, which she denied receiving.
On her resumption of duty on September 1, 1999, the institution fired her. But the Federal High Court, in its judgment, dismissed her case, following which she appealed to the Court of Appeal, which, in a judgment on March 10, 2005, reversed the decision and voided her sack, a decision the university, its Governing Council, Balogun and Abdulraheem appealed to the Supreme Court.
Ruling, the Supreme Court, upheld the judgment of the Court of Appeal, particularly its finding that the University of Ilorin failed to prove that it delivered to her its letter dated March 25, 1999, refusing her request for four month’s extension of her leave of absence.
The lead judgment written by Justice Kumai Bayang Akaahs noted that the kernel of the appeal was substantially “the receipt or non-receipt of a letter said to have been written on 25/3/99 by the appellants and mailed to the respondent in her overseas address, which the respondent denied receiving.”
Reacting, Prof. Ogunyemi said the judgement is simply a confirmation of ASUU’s position on UNILORIN and called on stakeholders to call the institution’s management to order.
He said; “As I speak we are still in court against the university over the sack of the university’s chapter of ASUU chairman and secretary. Why should a university derive pleasure in killing the culture of intellectualism?
“We are all familiar with the UNILORIN 49 and even after their reinstatement, the university is yet to obey the court ruling to the letter as their promotions are yet to be effected.”
Meanwhile, the University’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Kunle Akogun, said as a law-abiding university, it would obey the ruling as soon as the judgement is served.
He said; “It is weekend but I can assure you that we will confirm if we have been served from the legal unit. As soon as we are served, we will obey the ruling and implement the content.