…Kicks against Mandate group

Calabar Zone of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has said that it would hold Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State responsible for any harm on its branch chairman at Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, Comrade Ikechukwu Igwenyi.

It has also blamed Umahi for the deteriorating welfare of the staff of the university and the proscription of ASUU in the institution in a bid to administer the university with impunity without checks.

Calabar Zonal chairman of ASUU Dr. Aniekan Brown told newsmen weekend in Uyo that the Governor has already mobilized the Ohaozara kinsmen of Igwenyi to attack him and his family after he (Umahi) had threatened the chairman to leave his post and resign from the university for refusing to back down on issues pertaining to the welfare of union members in the University.

Brown recalled that the nationwide ASUU strike was suspended in Ebonyi State University on 24th December 2020 after the announcement by Igwenyi to members at the Faculty of Agriculture, CAS Annex of the University and as a result, EBSU staff members were ready to go back to work immediately school reopens and EBSU Management has been notified by the Branch.

“It has become a cause of concern and worries to the Union that as political stakeholders in Ohaozara, led by the Local Government Chairperson, Princess Nkechi Iyioku and the Commissioner for Local Government and
Chieftaincy Matters, Barrister Samuel Okoronkwo visited Governor David Umahi in the spirit of Christmas at his country home in Uburu on 28th
December 2020, the outcome was a threat to mobilize youths and traditional rulers from the area to occupy the family home of Comrade
Ikechuku Okorie Igwenyi in Abakaliki, who is the Acting Chairperson of ASUU, EBSU Branch to force him to resign and leave Ebonyi State or face
some consequences. A similar instruction was given to youths, Technical Advisers, and Faculty Presidents in EBSU on 29th December 2020 when they paid a Christmas visit to the Governor.

“Governor David Umahi, who is supposed to be the Chief Security Officer of the State with a primary obligation of protecting lives and properties of the citizens stated that Comrade Igwenyi is the reason there is no peace in the State and in the University and urged the people of Ohaozara Local Government Area to raise 1000 youths and occupy the residence of Comrade Ikechuku Igwenyi at Abakaliki for seven days, apprehend his parents in their family home at Okposi and occupied the place for another seven days while the traditional rulers should initiate plans to ostracize the Igwenyi family from Okposi Community, should he fail to leave the seat as ASUU Chairperson and resign his appointment as a Lecturer from the University, stating that his APC government will not tolerate any perceived enemy of the party and would knock any perceived opposition in the mouth to paralysis.

The zonal chairman wondered how Igwenyi has become a threat to peace in Ebonyi State for advocating for workers welfare that a “Governor is ordering such an illustrious son to leave his appointment and employment in EBSU in his own interest or face the consequences. Has he done any other thing than represent the interest of EBSU staff that he serves diligently and vowed to represent their interest satisfactorily,” he queried.

“On this note, it has become imperative that the life of Comrade Igwenyi and family is under intense threat by Governor David Umahi and all concerned should take note and save the situation before it gets out of control. Should anything happen to Comrade Ikechuku Igwenyi and family, everyone should hold Governor David Nweze Umahi responsible.” Brown warned.

The Union reminded the Governor that he has no right to suspend or proscribe ASUU as labor matters remained in the exclusive list of the Nigerian constitution while ASUU-EBSU was part of the just suspended Nationwide Strike Action as an affiliate branch of ASUU, from where she derived her charter of operations, and therefore duty-bound to abide by the directives of ASUU.

“Consequently, no state has a prerogative or constitutional preserve to take any action on it. What that translates to is that the purported prescription or suspension of ASUU EBSU by the Government of Ebonyi State is ultra vires, inconsequential, and of no effect. In this regard, ASUU has approached the National Industrial Court of Nigeria to challenge the authority of the Ebonyi State Government to make such an utterance. Meanwhile, it is a misplaced priority and spells doom for the people of Ebonyi State for Government to embark on cosmetic infrastructural development to the detriment of education and human capital development,” he said.

It also opposed a political group called Divine Mandate Professors (DMPs) raised by the Umahi’s government to run the affairs of the University, proscribed the Unions, and dissolved the University Governing Council to allow the DMPs take over from the University Council.

“This is choking the Management of EBSU and in their communiqué to the State Government, the DMPs accepted 20% deduction of staff monthly salaries at source to support the State Government in her fight against Covid-19. They also accepted that staff strength must be reduced without pension and gratuity beginning from the implementation of the result of a Medical Board while the leadership of the Unions must be disbanded by the removal and expulsion of ASUU Chairman, who also doubles as the Chairman of Joint Committee of Trade Unions.

“The resistance mounted by the Union under the leadership of Comrade Igwenyi and because he refused to dance to the tune of government and the DMPs is the reason he has become endangered and classified as a threat to Government. Comrade Igwenyi has been severely disturbed by security agencies and several allegations put on him. This has culminated to the recent threat to his life and family by the Governor of Ebonyi State during the Christmas visit by Ohaozara APC political stakeholders, which was also attended by Igwenyi family members.”

 


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