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Isa Pantami: ASUU panel upholds Cybersecurity professorial appointment on Buhari’s minister, clears FUTO management of infractions

The governing council and the management of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO) have been cleared of infractions in the appointment of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami as a Professor of Cybersecurity.

A panel which issued the clearance said the varsity followed due process and subjected Pantami’s publications to evaluation by external assessors.

It said the university established a prima facie case for the minister to be appointed a professor.

The panel asked the university to take appropriate measures, including legal action, against those dragging FUTO’s name into the mud.

Some of these highlights were contained in the report of the probe panel raised by the FUTO chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

Following some misgivings over the appointment of Pantami as a Professor in School of Information and Communication Technology (SICT), the ASUUU FUTO Congress on September 22nd, 2021 set up the investigation committee.

Those who served in the panel are: Prof. M. S. Nwakaudu (Chairman); Prof. G.A. Anyanwu; Prof. C. E. Orji; Prof. Mrs. O.P. Onyewuchi and Prof.T. I. N. Ezejiofor (Member/Secretary).

According to a document, the panel was mandated to within seven days “ascertain whether or not” due process was applied in the appointment of Dr. Isa Ibrahim as a Professor of Cyber security by the Governing Council of FUTO.

Those invited to appear before the panel included the University Registrar; the immediate Past Chairman, Committee of Deans; the Dean, School of Information and Communication Technology (SICT); some Deans of Schools who were members of ASAPC-Professional duringthe 2020/2021 Appraisal Year; some Internal Members of the last FUTO Governing Council and the Acting Head, Cybersecurity Department.

Although the panel sought for extension of time for a comprehensive investigation, it said the university council and the management also complied with FUTO Act in appointing the Minister as a Professor of Cybersecurity.

The report said in part: “FUTO in her quest to be counted in the modem trends in the fields of science, engineering, technology, etc, decided to establish new programmes such as Forensic Science, Software Engineering, Mechatronics Engineering, Cybersecurity, Radiography and Radiation Science among others.

“FUTO advertised for vacancies in Academic and Academic Support Staff in six schools (namely SICT, SESET, SOES, SOHT, SBMS and SOBS) and 23 Departments including Cybersecurity

“Vacancies advertised in the Academic Departments (including Cyber Security Department) are for Professor, Reader, Senior Lecturer, etc. The advertisement appeared in the two national newspapers (The Sun and The Guardian) and interested candidates were invited to apply for the position to which they are qualified.

“Dr. Isa Ibrahim responded and applied for the post of Professor of Cybersecurity. He was given a Temporary Appointment as Professor of Cybersecurity in the Cybersecurity Department, for which he accepted in writing.

“Dr. Isa Ibrahim’s qualifications include BSc, MSc in Computer Science and MBA all from ATBU, PhD in Computer Information System from Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK. He is a Fellow and member of some foreign Computer Science professional societies.

“Dr. Isa Ibrahim was requested to submit details of his publications and productive works for both internal and external assessments. He complied with the request.

“Dr. Isa Ibrahim’s publications and productive works were sent to the Dean of SICT for internal assessment for the purpose of establishment of prima facie case for the professorial appointment.

“The Dean of SICT assessed the publications and productive works using the FUTO guidelines for appointment and promotion and established a prima facie case for Dr. Isa Ibrahim for him to be appointed a Professor of Cybersecurity.

“The prima facie case for Dr. Isa Ibrahim was presented to the Academic Staff Appraisal and Promotion Committee- Professorial (ASAPC-Professorial) meeting held on 17th March, 2021. The committee discussed the issue and recommended same for approval by the FUTO council.

“The Council at its meeting held on the 18th of March, 2021 approved the prima facie case for Dr. Isa Ibrahim to be appointed a Professor of Cybersecurity.

“Following the approval of the prima facie case, Dr. Isa Ibrahim’s publications and productive works were sent for external assessment.

“The external assessment returned positive and the council at its meeting of 20th August, 2021 approved his appointment as a Professor of Cybersecurity.

“Dr. Isa Ibrahim was given a tenure appointment as a Professor of Cybersecurity following his appointment by the FUTO Governing Council.

“Dr. Isa Ibrahim has assumed duties and is currently involved in the teaching of CYB 201 (Fundamentals of Cyber Security), via online and a lead Supervisor of one PhD Student/Staff of Cybersecurity Department.”

The panel, which said the university was in order on Pantami’s appointment, asked it to go to any extent to protect its image.

It recommended legal action against those who had allegedly tried to tarnish the image of FUTO.

The report added: “From our findings and evidence before the panel, members are of the opinion that the appointment of Dr. Isa Ibrahim as a Professor of Cybersecurity by the FUTO Governing Council followed due process.

“The panel strongly recommends that the University management should as a matter of urgency, take appropriate actions, including legal action, against those who deliberately try to drag the image and reputation of FUTO to the mud.”

Confirming the panel report, the chairman of the FUTO chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Dr. Christopher Echereobia, admitted that the union has a copy in its custody.

Echereobia said that the report would be deliberated upon at the zonal meeting coming up today in Owerri.

“After the zonal meeting, we are also going to deliberate on the report on November 12 at the NEC meeting in Abuja before we can take a position on the report,” he said.

Saying that the panel was set up at the instant of the national, Echereobia said: “So, it is after these deliberations at the zonal and national level that we can take position on the report.”

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