V-c informers aid secret police

April 11, 1997

Nigerian lecturers who failed to return to work after a seven-month strike are under surveillance from the dreaded State Security Service after being reported to the military authorities by their vice chancellors.

Lecturers who did not resume their teaching duties by the government imposed deadline last October also face a lifelong ban from jobs in any government agency.

The government has yet to publish the list of lecturers who failed to comply with the deadline, but reliable sources reported that vice chancellors have put the spotlight mostly on members of the suspended Academic Staff Union of Universities, which spearheaded the strike, or on teachers who have consistently exposed corruption at their universities.

The administrator of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka Umaru Gomwalk, is one of the leading hardliners. Professor Gomwalk has accused some academics of masterminding student demonstrations last January and has charged 18 teachers before a special military court.

The tribunal falls into the same category as the one that tried Ken Saro-Wiwa, hanged in November 1995. Anybody found guilty has no right of appeal and their case can only be reviewed by the head of state, General Sani Abacha.

Professor Gomwalk sent their names to the security services, describing them as dangerous individuals whose activities constituted "obstacles" to peace within the university. The lecturers concerned are: Obiora Udechukwu, Patrick Nwachukwu, Fidelis Chilaka, Ogban Oganlyam, Gilbert Ikekeonwu, Alex Nzei, Boniface Chuckwuezi, George Amadi, Sylvanus Ekwelie, Agwu Imo, Raymond Anyadike, Herbert Onwubiko, Onuoha Chidi, Tony Onyishi, Michael Okwueze, John Onuoha, Theresa Oguakwa and Ezekiel Ogbo.

Armed policemen and soldiers swooped in a dawn raid into their university quarters, forced them into waiting military vehicles and locked them in police cells.

Alarmed at the prospect of their being held indefinitely, lawyers engaged by union officials successfully filed an application for bail while the case of arson and incitement levelled at the lecturers was being determined.

The presiding judge ordered the lecturers to surrender their passports and report to the police.

The Federal University of Benin has ordered the dismissal of seven lecturers including Fostus Iyayi, a former ASUU national president and Commonwealth prizewinner in literature.

Andrew Onokerhoraye, the vice chancellor, accused the lecturers of not obeying the return-to-work directive, and told their heads of department and deans not to assign any lectures to them because "they are no more members of the university".

According to reliable sources, the lecturers are seeking an independent commission of inquiry to probe the mismanagement of funds and the recent murder of student leaders who had been protesting against an increase in school fees.

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