THE National Association of Nigerian Students has asked the management of the University of Port Harcourt to reinstate a former chairman of the varsity’s chapter of Academic State Union of Universities, Dr. Andrew Efemini, as the institution’s Head of Department of Philosophy.
Efemini had been allegedly removed as the HOD for taking part in the protest organised by students against the torture and killing of four UNIPORT undergraduates in Omuokiri Aluu community.
NANS President, Mr. Dauda Mohammed, who made the demand in a telephone interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, said it was wrong for the Vice Chancellor of the university, Professor Joseph Ajienka, to have removed the lecturer from his post.
Mohammed argued that since Efemini joined in the protest in solidarity with Nigerian students against the murder of their colleagues, the university don did not deserve to be removed as a head of department.
The NANS President, who is a student of the University of Jos, explained that students would have expressed their solidarity with lecturers if one of them (lecturers) were to have fallen victim of injustice.
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,” Mohammed added.
He, however, described the murder of the UNIPORT students as barbaric and called on security agents not to leave any stone unturned in their effort to bring the culprits to book.
Reacting, the Public Relations Officer of the university, Dr. William Wodi, said Efemini was not the first Head of Department to be removed from office by a serving vice chancellor.
Wodi explained that the appointment of heads of departments, directors and unit heads remained the prerogative of the vice chancellor.
According to him, the university is run through statutory organs that weigh their decisions before they are pronounced. NANS is not one of such bodies.
“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 social responsibility.”