From Chris Njoku, Owerri
A member of the Computer Registration Council of Nigeria and lecturer, Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Owerri, Dr. Sam Okore, has raised the alarm of imminent exodus of members of the academic staff arising from victimisation and witch-hunting by the management.
Okore, a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry, has accused the management of conspiracy, victimisation and witch-hunting against him, resulting to his indefinite suspension since 2012.
Speaking on his ordeal in Owerri, Okore, who claimed to be a member of not less than six professional bodies, including Computer Registration Council of Nigeria as well as Computer Society of Nigeria, told The Nation that trouble began when he forwarded a proposal to the institution’s management headed by the immediate past Rector Dr Celestina Njoku for the introduction of a Virtual Chemistry Laboratory but which was rejected by the rector for inexplicable reasons.
“The then rector called me to her office asking me to submit some proposals that would generate funds for the institution. I submitted two proposals, one on the Federal Polytechnic water project ,which was adopted by the school and virtual chemistry online laboratory,” he said.
According to him, hardly had this occurred when the management accused him in a letter of suspension dated November 3, 2012 of alleged misconduct surrounding the “authenticity of your professed academic qualifications upon which you were employed by this institution as academic staff.”
Okore has B.Sc(Ed) in Chemistry from University of Port Harcourt, M.Sc and Ph.D, Atlas University, Philadelphia, United States, where he obtained certificates in Digital Chemistry but the management said the latter school was not in the “list of accredited universities published by the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Education.”
“Consequently, I was placed on five months’suspension and demoted from lecturer I to an Assistant lecturer because they saw me as a threat, I faced the management for two years every week and I later petitioned to the then Minister of Education over this victimisation”.
Upon the intervention of the minister, the embattled Okore said the institution later recalled him but refused to pay him salary for five years after demoting him, on the insistence that acquisition of a Degree Certificate in Education was not acceptable to the school.
He recalled that the institution had shortly after his appointment as a lecturer placed him on a-three year probation and, thereafter, confirmed his appointment.
“If after three years of probation, they confirmed my appointment and promoted me from lecturer 2 to lecturer 1 based on hard work and publications, but only to turn around five years later to say that my confirmation was in error. Why did they put me on probation for three years before confirming my appointment and also promoted me in the first place if my confirmation was in error?’’, he queried.
Okore who claimed to have made an indelible mark in Computer Application in Chemistry has pleaded with the management to either lift the indefinite suspension clamped on him or alternatively pay him all arrears of salaries owed him and allow him to retire formally from the services of the institution.
where students now conduct their practicals online particularly during this period of Covid-19 pandemic.
“The good news is that the rejected digital chemistry by the cross section of the management has been received, reviewed and authenticated by the Chemical Society of Nigeria, CSN” he disclosed.
“I have also developed the use of artificial intelligence to boost admission ratio at the University admission websites and various aspects of educational apps trending on google playstore, “ he further disclosed.
“With all these academics achievements, where lies my confirmation in error by the management?,” he asked.
The public relations officer, Ever Nwosu told our correspondent after several attempts to obtain their reaction that the matter was before the management. However, efforts to reach the current Rector of the institution, Rev. Engr. Michael Arimanwa has been envisive.
When the former rector, Dr. (Mrs.) Celestina Njoku was contacted she told the Nation that she had no case with the embattled lecturer “rather it was the problem I inherited from the previous administration and the records are there for everyone to see.
She however refered our correspondent to her former deputy director(Academics), Anderson Ezeibe who later explained genesis of the problem.
He said was that the Governing Council of the institution led then by Dr. (Mrs.) Ahigbe did a staff audit which headed by Dr. Jacobs queried Okore’s doctorate certificate from the Atlas University USA which was an online programme which was not acceptable to the institution.
According to him Okore was asked to Do a Master’s degree in that field and brought down his position from lecturer 1 to lecturer 3 which is the equivalent to a lecturer with a first degree.
He said the aggrieved lecturer went to court but the court ruling did not favour him and the school wrote him to apologise to them for accusing wrongly and show evidence that he has enrolled for a fresh Master’s degree programme. Rather than heed this advice, he went for an appeal.
So, recently he wrote that he has withdrawn the case from the court, but that’s is not how to withdraw a case with mere letter writing, you file a notice of withdrawal and serve the school.
“It is not a personal problem as he has alleged. He was suspended because he went to court not because of fake certificates, he stated.