28th December, 2021
By Jethro Ibileke
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma chapter, has dragged Edo State Government before a State High Court sitting in Ekpoma.
The union dragged the government to court over the legality or otherwise of the amendment of the Ambrose Alli University (AAU) Laws–Special Intervention Powers Provisions Law 2021 and the deriving Special Intervention Team (SIT), set up to take full functions of the University’s Governing Council.
The Union had approached the Court to challenge the amendment University Law which confers on the State Governor extra-ordinary powers in the direct management of the affairs of the institution, which ASUU noted among other things, totally disregard the devastating consequences on university autonomy, long-tested traditions, ethos and organs of the University.
Dr. Cyril Oziegbe Onogbosele and Dr. William Odion, Chairman and Assistant Secretary of AAU Ekpoma ASUU respectively who signed the petition numbered HEK/MISC/9/2021, are also kicking against the manner in which the University Governing Council was dissolved.
“The Council as a tenured organ of the University cannot be dissolved by fiat without legal consequences for the University and the State,” the Petitioners said.
They insisted that the amendment is a subtle attempt by the Government to take over the affairs of the University for the purpose of eroding its autonomy.
They want the Court to determine whether the correct interpretation and construction of the provisions of Items 27, 28 and 29 of Part II (Concurrent Legislature List) of the Second Schedule to the 1999 Constitution (as amended); the Education (National Minimum Standards and Establishment of Institutions) Act, Cap. E3, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and the Guidelines issued thereunder, the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment) Act, Cap N81, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and the provisions of Ambrose Alli University (Amendment) Law, 1999; the Ambrose Alli University (Special Intervention Powers) Law, 2021 are legal.
The Unionists also want the Court to determine whether the provisions of the Ambrose Alli University (Special Intervention Powers) Law, 2021 are not in conflict with section 21 of the Education (National Minimum Standards and Establishment of Institutions) Act, 2004, paragraph 6 (2) of the schedule to the aforesaid Act and the Guidelines issued by the National Universities Commission for the establishment and management of Universities in Nigeria are legal.
Besides, they also want the Court to rule on whether the Special Intervention Powers) Law, 2021 is not a direct negation of the avowed traditional university autonomy guaranteed by section 21 of the upon the Education (National Minimum Standards and Establishment of Institutions) Act, 2004, paragraph 6(2) of the schedule to the aforesaid Act and the Guidelines issued by the National Universities Commission (NUC) for the establishment and management of universities in Nigeria and consequently, invalid, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
The case which was first heard on Tuesday, December 14, 2021, has been fixed for March 8, 2022, for further hearing.