Drama as reps, minister clash over sack of 13 Vice-Chancellors

Reps to investigate alleged extra-judicial killing by Customs

From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja

A mild drama played out yesterday when members of the House of Representatives  Committee on Tertiary Education clashed with the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu over the sack of 13 university Vice-Chancellors recently. 

On Saturday  February 13, Adamu announced President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval for the immediate removal of the vice-chancellors of the 12 federal universities established by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Also sacked was the vice chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria, Prof. Vincent Tenebe. The statement by Adamu equally announced their replacements.

Thereafter, the minister who was summoned by the committee following controversies which trailed the removal.

At yesterday’s hearing, issues such as the legality of removal vice-chancellors with subsisting councils, the tenure as well as the overall legal status of the universities dominated the argument between the lawmakers and the minister, with both sides sticking to their positions.

Adamu, in his response to questions from the committee agreed that the president doesn’t have the power to sack a vice-chancellor even as he insisted that the sacked VCs couldn’t enjoy the protection of the laws governing other federal universities as they were not established by law.

Speaking during the hearing, a member of the committee and the Deputy Chairman of the  Committee on Media and Publicity, Jonathan  Gaza expressed regret that the minister’s  amounted to the politicisation of the appointment and removal of vice-chancellors.

He warned that their sack had set a bad precedence that shouldn’t be encouraged.

In his contribution, another member of the committee,  Sopuluchuwkwu Ezeonwuka described the removal of the VCs as illegal insisting that as schools established by the federal government, the basic guidelines used by other universities equally apply to them.

In his ruling, committee Chairman of the Committee, Adamu Suleiman emphasised that the minister still hadn’t convinced them of the legal basis upon which the ministry reached the decision to sack the VCs.

Suleiman who stated that the committee was not out to challenge the authority of the president but was only interested in knowing the position of the law on the tenures of of Vice-Chancellors and if the law was adhered to in removing the VCs, directed the minister to return on Tuesday, March 8 with relevant documents to prove his case.

Meanwhile the House of Representatives directed its Committee on Customs to investigate allegations of extra-judicial killings levelled against the Nigerian Customs Service, (NCS).

The House  further directed  that unnecessary road blocks by security agencies should be dismantled citing it as an apparatus for the exploitation of Nigerians.

The resolution by the House followed the adoption  of motion on brought under matters of urgent public importance  calling for an end to the killing of residents in border towns of Gaga, Wurno, Tangaza, Wammako and Kware  in Sokoto State.

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