Hearing has been fixed at an Ekpoma, Edo State High Court for March 8, 2022, in a suit 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 local chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had instituted the legal battle which has the Edo State Government as the defendant in the suit which was first heard on Tuesday, December 14, 2021, at the court.
Angered over the amendment of the University Law which confers on the governor extra-ordinary powers in the direct management of the affairs of the institution, the union had headed to court to challenge what it regarded among others as the total disregard for the devastating consequences on university autonomy, long-tested traditions, ethos and organs of the university.
The petitioners, Dr Cyril Oziegbe Onogbosele and Dr William Odion, the chairman and assistant secretary, respectively of the university’s chapter of ASUU 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 union said.
The union 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.
In Suit NO HEK/MISC/9/2021, the union wants 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.