Acting Vice-Chancellor of the Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma, Prof Sonnie Adagbonyin, Chairman of the varsity’s Special Intervention Team (SIT), Mr Andrew Olotu, and other officers of the institution may be committed to prison over alleged disobedience to an order of the court.
The alleged disobedience is in relation to the non-payment of January and February salaries of some academic staff of the University on the basis of the report of the inconclusive and controversial Biometrics Verification Exercise carried out in the University which has been a source of dispute at the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
In a motion on notice brought pursuant to Order 63, Rules 5(1), 5(3) and 6 of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria dated 22nd day of June 2022, the University’s Chapter of ASUU through its Counsel, Chief A. B. Thomas, is seeking an order of the court to imprison Mr. Olotu and others for contempt of the orders of the Court dated 2/2/2022 and 17/5/2022 for refusing to pay some academic staff members their salaries for January and February 2022 who are aggrieved by the Biometrics Verification Exercise that led to the cause of action in Suit NO: NICN/BEN/04/2022.
Apart from Mr. Olotu and Professor Adagbonyin, other Officers of the University facing the risk of imprisonment include the University’s SIT Secretary, Dr. Idemudia Oaihimire, Mr. Austin Osakue, a member of the University’s SIT, the University’s Acting Registrar, Mr. Ambrose Odiase and the Acting Bursar, Barr. (Ms) Comfort Ibhalukholo Iserameiya.
In the Affidavit of Facts deposed to by Chairman of the University’s Chapter of ASUU, Dr. Cyril Oziegbe Onogbosele in support of FORM 86 (Notice of Consequence of Disobedience to Order or Court), it was averred that ASUU obtained an Order Ex-Parte on 2/2/2022 from “this Honourable Court restraining the Defendants/Contemnors from taking any disciplinary action against any academic staff in respect of the Biometrics Verification Exercise, which is the subject matter of the PRE-ACTION NOTICE, subject-matter of Interpretation via-a-vis the Ambrose Alli University Law of 1999 (as Amended).”
Mr. Olotu and others as well as the University were said to have been duly served with the Certified True Copy of the Enrolled Order of the said Ex-Parte Injunction granted by “this Honourable Court on 2/2/2022.”
It was reported that the same Court granted an interlocutory Injunction on 17/5/2022 against Mr. Olotu and others as well as the University from carrying out any invitation or punitive action, disciplinary measures arising from the subject-matter of “the Originating Summons which was later argued same date (17/5/2022) and Judgment reserved till 7/7/2022.
The Court was told that the University has been paying the salaries of academic and non-academic staff during the pendency of the Suit and the Injunctions granted by the Court before the punitive selective payment of both January and February 2022 salaries.
The Union further said in the affidavit of facts that January 2022 salary was paid on Monday, May, 23rd 2022, while the February, 2022 salary of workers, including academic staff was paid on Wednesday, May, 25th 2022, but all academic staff members who were perceived not to cooperate with the contentious criteria of the inconclusive biometrics verification exercise have their salaries stopped and being punished and victimized by Mr. Olotu and others by their refusal to pay these members for January 2022 and February 2022 in spite of the existing injunctions of the court.
While informing the Court that the actions of Mr. Olotu and others make the essence of going to court ridiculed, ASUU prayed the Court to punish and imprison Mr. Olotu and others for floating its Orders.
In the words of the Union “judgment, in this case, is adjourned to 7/7/2022 and there is NEED to deal with the Contemnors before judgment”, reports Daily Independent.