Two lecturers in the Department of Chemistry, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Dr. Titilayo Bamgbose, and Mr. Adesina Bamigbade, sacked for alleged plagiarism, have dragged the university before the National Industrial Court to challenge their dismissal.
The appointments of Bamgbose, who was an associate professor, and Bamigbade, an assistant lecturer, were terminated on May 9 this year by the FUNAAB Governing Council at the end of its 76th Statutory Council Meeting, which also approvedpromotions and disciplinary cases in the institution.
Two other lecturers in the institution’s Department of Chemistry, Dr. Mojisola Nkiko and Dr. Sikiru Ahmed, were demoted by the authorities from their previous positions as Lecturer I to Lecturer II.
But Bamgbose and Bamigbade, in a suit numbered NICN/LA/371/2013, filed by their lawyers, Bamidele Aturu and Co., claimed that the procedure that led to the termination of their appointments was “hasty and malicious.”
The lecturers are praying the court to set aside the termination of their appointments and reinstate them to their positions without loss of seniority, privileges, entitlements and other benefits.
They are also asking the court to declare an order mandating FUNAAB to pay each of them N10m as damages for wrongful termination of their appointments and an additional N5m, representing the cost of the suit.
The lecturers denied committing the offence of plagiarism for which they were sacked by FUNAAB, adding that the composition of the investigation panel that investigated their cases was faulty and against the law establishing the university.
“The laboratory experiments that led to the paper in question were carried out in FUNAAB laboratories and the article that emanated from it was peer-reviewed and published in a reputable journal, which enjoys global visibility, considering its online version and of which no author or publisher has claimed that their article was plagiarised,” the complainants said.
Bamgbose and Bamigbade also said the plagiarism checker or Turnitin software the state disciplinary committee claimed to have used on their paper, which was singled out via anonymous mail, was “wrongfully and inappropriately applied by an untrained officer.”
The two lecturers are, therefore, seeking a declaration that the termination of their appointments based on the final decision of the FUNAAB Council, consisting of the members of the investigation panel and members of the staff disciplinary committee, whose report was approved, was “wrong, oppressive, unlawful, null and void and of no effect whatsoever for being in breach of the principles of natural justice and fair hearing.”
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