Friday, 25 March 2016

Ballot Smashing, Violence Mars ASUU Election at Anambra State University


 
AN election organized by the Academic Staff Union, ASUU, of the Anambra State–owned Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University to select its senate member for the university’s Council ended in fiasco with ballot boxes smashed and thrown
away. Trouble started when ASUU members could not agree on who was qualified for the election. As the lecturers engaged themselves in shouting matches, some of them reached for the already placed ballot boxes, smashed and threw them away and the votes already cast by voters were scattered all over the university auditorium. In the ensuing confusion, many ASUU members scampered for safety such that the exercise ended abruptly. It was gathered that the bone of contention was whether contract staff of the university, who had spent more than three years in the university and staff members who were undertaking courses in the university, were qualified to contest election into the university council. Chairman of the university’s ASUU, Mr. Emeka Nwabunnia and other officials had insisted that contract staff and those pursuing postgraduate programmes were not qualified to contest the election since, according to them, the council was a governing body of the university system. They argued that it was wrong for student lecturers of the institution to contest the election which, if they succeeded, would make them to sit in judgment and determine the fate of others even while in the university as students and called on the electoral body to disqualify such categories of candidates. However, one of the contestants, Mr. Chike Osegbue, a PhD student of political science, described the position of the ASUU leadership as baseless, arguing that they did not have the backing of most members of ASUU. The Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Fidelis Okafor also disagreed with ASUU leadership, saying that the listed candidates were check off- paying members of ASUU and bona fide members of staff of the university and were therefore qualified to vote and be voted for in the election. “It would be wrong to collect check off and other dues from them and thereafter deny them election opportunity,” the VC said. Even after the election continued following the intervention of the VC, some people who apparently felt that their candidates were losing destroyed the ballot boxes and scattered the ballot papers. The VC however told reporters that the election would be rescheduled after necessary logistics would have been put in place

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