A lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt, and former president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Dr. Andrew Efemini was relieved of his position as head of department of Philosophy at the university, because he participated in the students’ demonstration over the killing of four of their colleagues in Aluu.
The decision of the vice chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Joseph Ajienka, to remove Efemini brought reaction from the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS). NANS is demanding for Efemini’s reinstatement.
The National President of NANS, Mr. Dauda Mohammed, said in an interview that it was wrong for the vice chancellor to have removed the lecturer from his post.
Mohammed, who is a student of the University of Jos, argued that if the situation was reversed and lecturers were the victims of the brutality in Aluu, the students would have expressed their solidarity with lecturers.
He said, “An injury to one is an injury to all and that is why we are saying that the decision to remove the head of department, Philosophy in the University of Port Harcourt is wrong.
“By joining students in the protest, the HOD was merely condemning the gruesome murder of four students of the university. Nigerian students
would have shown the same solidarity if it were a lecturer that was affected.
“We are calling on the management of the university to have a rethink and reinstate the removed lecturer as HOD. Many Nigerians have condemned the killing of UNIPORT students and if a lecturer does the same thing, we don’t think that he deserved to be punished.”
However, the university authorities are adamant on not recalling Efemini. The school’s public relations officer, Dr. William Wodi, said Efemini was not the first Head of Department to be removed from office by a serving vice chancellor, as the appointment or removal of heads of departments, directors and unit heads remained the prerogative of the vice chancellor.
Wodi said that NANS is not one of the statutory organs through which the university is run.
“Dr. Andrew Efemini is free to lead or join demonstrations as guaranteed him by relevant sections of the Nigerian constitution and the principle of academic freedom.
“But neither Dr. Efemini nor any other person has the right to incite violence as he was copiously quoted by the media. Every freedom goes with a dose of responsibility.”