The management of the Lagos State University, on Monday, put out a curious defence of its professor of Science Education, Peter Okebukola, who has presented multiple birth certificates during his profession.
The university was reacting to a PREMIUM TIMES investigation which revealed that the professor has three different birth dates – February 17, 1949; February 17, 1948; and February 17, 1951- in the record of the university, which he has used to stay in service beyond his mandatory retirement date.
Documents obtained by this newspaper also implicated the university’s vice chancellor, Olanrewaju Fagbohun, a protégé of Mr Okebukola, in the age falsification scandal.
Our investigations revealed that the vice chancellor prevented the university’s Academic Staff Establishment division from taking steps that would have ensured that the former NUC boss was retired in 2016 by withholding the personal file of Mr Okebukola.
Our investigation further showed that the original date of birth presented by Mr Okebukola when he was employed by the university in 1984 was February 17, 1949, which would have made him eligible for compulsory retirement on age grounds in 2014.
But the university, which had refused to comment before the story was published, in the statement signed by its spokesperson, Ademola Adekoya, claimed that it relied on the date of birth forwarded to it by the Mr Okebukola’s former employer, Oyo State College of Education, when he was employed by the university.
“Professor Peter Okebukola joined the service of Lagos State University transferring his service from the then Oyo State College of Education, Ilesa and the date of birth on his Record of Service forwarded to the University by his former employer is 17th February, 1951. The University is bound to stand by that date because the Record of Service is the officially recognized record of his past service.
“The affirmation of the Date of Birth of Professor Okebukola in the Record of Service forwarded to the University by the Oyo State College of Education, Ilesa confirmed the assertion by Professor Okebukola that he was born on 17th February,1951,” the management of the university stated.
The management also explained that due to the review of the university retirement law in 2016 by the state government, which extended the retirement age of academics from 65 to 70, Mr Okebukola is now eligible for retirement in 2021.
The management explained that Mr Okebukola was not the only beneficiary of this review.
“It is instructive to note that aside Professor Peter Okebukola, five (5) academic and twenty (20) non-teaching members of staff including those on Terminal Leave also benefitted from the provisions of this law,” it stated.
Earlier on Monday, the university vice chancellor had posted a statement on one of the university’s WhatsApp group describing the age falsification scandal as a “mix up” and saying the school was “looking into the matter”.
The university’s defence of Mr Okebukola that it relied on the date of birth provided to it by the professor’s former employer appeared curious because there is no indication of that in 1984 when he was being transferred to the university by the Oyo State College of Education.
As an applicant for a position in LASU, it was Mr Okebukola’s responsibility to present his credentials to the University, not his former employer. Also, the Nigerian law only recognises birth certificates or a sworn affidavit indicating one’s date of birth.
LASU management did not state which document transmitting the date of birth it received from Oyo State College of Education as it claimed.
PREMIUM TIMES has a resume submitted by Mr Okebukola to LASU where he stated he was born on February 17, 1949.
Also, multiple official correspondent seen by PREMIUM TIMES clearly state that the date of birth Mr Okebukola presented when he was employed was February 17, 1949.
In its statement, the management did not also disprove any of the claims, which included the revelation that the vice chancellor prevented the university Academic Staff Establishment division from processing Mr Okebukola’s retirement by hiding his personal file, from those memos, as quoted in our original story.
The statement was also curiously silent on the revelation that Mr Okebukola has submitted multiple birth dates throughout his career, an offence that should attract immediate termination of appointment or dismissal, according to the condition of service of senior staff of the university.
Read the University’s statement in full below:
Attention of the Lagos State University Management has been drawn to a publication released by Premium Times on Saturday 6th April, 2019 with respect to a former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) and an academic member of staff of the University, Distinguished Professor Peter Okebukola. The publication bothers around multiple dates of births and retirement status of the renowned Professor.
The Lagos State University Management is without doubt one that abides strictly with the rule of law, statutes and conditions of service guiding operations of the University. In order to clear the ambiguity in the publication referred to above, the University Management is hereby informing the general public that Distinguished Professor Peter Okebunkola is a bonafide academic member of staff of the University.
Professor Peter Okebukola joined the service of Lagos State University transferring his service from the then Oyo State College of Education, Ilesa and the date of birth on his Record of Service forwarded to the University by his former employer is 17th February, 1951. The University is bound to stand by that date because the Record of Service is the officially recognized record of his past service.
The affirmation of the Date of Birth of Professor Okebukola in the Record of Service forwarded to the University by the Oyo State College of Education, Ilesa confirmed the assertion by Professor Okebukola that he was born on 17th February, 1951.
Based on the foregoing and in compliance with the law and subsisting Conditions of Service guiding senior members of staff of the University as at 2015, Professor Peter Okebukola was due for retirement on the 17th February, 2016, being the date he attained the age of 65years. However, the Lagos State Government on 5th January, 2016 promulgated a new law extending the retirement age of Professors to 70 years while other academic members of staff who are not of Professorial cadre and Non-Teaching members of staff had their retirement age reviewed upwards to 65years. (Section 42:1 a,b&c LASU Amended LAW, 2016).
It is instructive to note that aside Professor Peter Okebukola, five (5) academic and twenty (20) non-teaching members of staff including those on Terminal Leave also benefitted from the provisions of this law.
Also, we state unequivocally that the Vice-Chancellor has no power to confer on any individual the rank of Distinguished Professor. It was the University Senate in the exercise of its powers as provided in Section 9:2(f) LASU LAW 2004 (As Amended) that recommended to the Governing Council, the conferment of the rank unto Professor Peter Okebukola. The Governing Council also duly approved same.
Finally, the University Management is using this medium to reaffirm to the general public that it is resolute in continuing to deliver on its core mandates of teaching, research and community service.
Mr. Ademola ADEKOYA
Centre for Information, Press and Public Relations
Lagos State University