By Emeka Mamah
KADUNAâ€”THE crisis rocking Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria, over the appointment of a substantive Vice Chancellor in the last one year, is yet to abate as the staff, yesterday, rejected the appointment of Prof. Mustapha Abubakar for the post, describing it as illegal.
The Universityâ€™s Legal Officer, Mr. S. A. Barau, also in a letter to the institutionâ€™s Registrar, drew attention to existing court cases regarding the appointment of a Vice Chancellor and advised on the need to exercise caution by suspendingÂ further action on the matter pending the determination of the suit.
The ABUâ€™s Governing Council had on April 1, 2010 announced the appointment of Prof. Mustapha Abubakar as the Vice Chancellor pointing out that the action was based on â€œconsensus basis.â€
However, there are several cases challenging the legality of the council and seeking also to stop the appointment of a Vice Chancellor by the present council headed by Engr. Bunu Sheriff at both the Kaduna and Abuja High Courts.
In his letter dated March 30, this year and entitled â€œRe: Suit No. FHC/ABJ/123/2010 between Prof. I.I Dafwang and, and three others against the ABU, Zaria, among othersâ€Â Barau stated that though there was no court order stopping the appointment of a Vice Chancellor for the University, it was important â€œto wait for the court processes to be concluded before taking any further actionâ€ as doing anything contrary would be subjudice.
He stated: â€œThough there is no order or injunction in place to stop the process, but the fact that we are already served with the motion, we may need to avoid what the court may term fait accompli.
â€œThus, when the court regards our acts as fait accompli, it may order us to undo what is done by issuing a mandatory order of injunction to compel us to undo the completed act.
â€œThis position of law was made manifest in the case of Chief Emeka Odimegwu Ojukwu vs Military Governor of Lagos State and others (No 1)(1985) 2 NWLR (pt 10) at 821 to 827 where the Supreme Court ordered for the undoing that which is done, during the pendency of the litigation.
â€œIf this happens, all the decisions of the university in selecting a new Vice Chancellor for the university if the decision went in favour of the applicant will have to be done again.â€
Barau also quoted the case between the Registered Trustees of Apostolic Church vs Olowoleni in which the Supreme ruled that â€œonce parties have turned their dispute over to the court for determination, both parties are expected to await the result of the litigation and the appropriate order of court before acting furtherâ€¦â€ pointing out that â€œdrawing from the above decision of the Supreme Court which is to prevent a situation where the court will be foisted with a fait accompli, it is advisable that the decision of the court on the interlocutory injunction be awaited before taking further steps.
â€œWe have also observed from the applicantsâ€™ application that the governing council of the university was not made a party whose action the applicants were seeking to stop.
â€œBut since the Secretary of the Council and the university were made parties, it is our considered opinion that the process should be stopped, while we instruct our counsel to make the appropriate application to the court to have the motion heard and determined shortly.â€