The Management of Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) has refuted the purported suspension of the Registrar of the institution, Dr Mrs Modupe Ajayi, by the Federal Ministry of Education.
The Federal Government had on Thursday announced the suspension of the embattled Vice Chancellor of the institution , Prof. Adebiyi Daramola and the Registrar, Dr. Mrs Modupe Ajayi.
A letter signed by the Acting Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Dr. Hussaini Adamu, noted that the duo was suspended in connection with their ongoing trial at the behest of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
FUTA Head of Information and Protocol Unit, Mr. Adegbenro Adebanjo, in a statement made available to journalists in Akure, stressed that Ajayi still remains the substantive Registrar of the university.
It was, however, learnt that the Federal Ministry of Education confused the office of the Registrar with the bursar, Mr. Emmanuel Oresegun, who is being tried alongside with Daramola for corruption charges.
"Therefore this statement dispels the false and patently misleading information making the rounds that the Registrar of Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA Dr Mrs. Modupe Ajayi was suspended from office. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
"Dr Ajayi continues to carry out her duties and responsibilities as the Registrar and Secretary to the Governing Council of FUTA until the expiration of her term of office at the end of May, 2017," the statement read in part.
But FUTA Students Union Government (SUG) condemned the suspension of the principal officers, describing the action of the minister as illegal and "subtle usurpation" because it didn't make a recourse to the institution's governing council.
The SUG President, Mr. Oladele Segun, lamented that "It is surprising, appalling and draconian for the Minister to bow to pressure from retrogressive forces that are determined to take a pound of flesh from the FUTA Vice Chancellor and the Bursar.
"It is pertinent to state categorically that the corruption trial of the Vice Chancellor and the Bursar, which was cited as the reason for this illegal suspension, is before a court of competent jurisdiction.
"Thus the Students' Union finds it undemocratic, autocratic, unconstitutional and an abuse of court process for the Minister of Education to unilaterally suspend the top university officials without recourse to stipulated guidelines.
"This suspension, if allowed to hold, is an attack on the autonomy of the University system. It contravenes the provisions of the Universities Miscellaneous Act No.11 of 1993 (as amended) by decree No.25, 1996 and further amended in 2003 and 2012, and other items contained in the 2009 agreement between the Federal Government and the unions."
The union faulted the minister for the removal of the principal officers, describing it as "the outcome of an unguided passion and power tussle by unscrupulous elements in the Ministry of Education.
"The constitution is very clear on the procedures to be followed in the appointment and disengagement of Vice Chancellors and none of these procedures was followed by the Minister of Education in the FUTA case according to the provisions of the University Miscellaneous Act.
"The power to appoint and remove a substantive Vice Chancellor, and when the need arises, an acting Vice Chancellor, is vested in the Governing Councils. FUTA has a Governing Council in place, thus the action of the Minister is an attack on the Nigerian Constitution."
The student body urged the Federal Ministry of Education to rescind its action because it does not augur well with the campus and the Nigerian University system at large.
"He cannot desecrate the revered Nigerian academic culture. Our appeal to the Federal Government is for the immediate reversal of the unconstitutional and hasty suspension of the FUTA Vice Chancellor and the Bursar," the union said.