Soroti University of Science and Technology has been dragged to court over the alleged erroneous appointment of Prof. Ikoja John Robert Odongo as University Vice Chancellor and Lawrence Too – Okema as deputy vice chancellor.
Dr. Omagor Charles PhD a lecturer at Makerere University Business School has dragged Soroti University, Prof. Francis G. Omaswa, Prof. J.R Ikoja Odongo, Lawrence Too – Okema and Attorney general as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th respondents respectively in a case where he is seeking judicial review as amended in 2019 section 98 of the civil procedure act Cap. 71 and section 31 of the Universities and other tertiary institutions act, 2001 as amended in 2006.
In a court document received on 27 October 2022 by the University and seen by TNN exclusive, the applicant wants court to declare that the Chairperson of University council didn’t have any legal mandate to appoint the 3rd and 4th respondents as Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice Chancellor since such authority is vested under the law upon the chancellor who then had not been appointed and such appointment was null and void.
Soroti University on July 25, 2022 advertised for job applicants for the position of University Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice Chancellor and the advert was scheduled to expire on 12 August 2022 at 5PM local time. Prof. Ikoja and Okema allegedly got appointed to office when the advert was still running, according to the applicant.
The applicant also wants a declaration that 3rd and 4th respondents having been handpicked to occupy key positions at the university without following due process and have as such never held any appointment for positions of Vice Chancellor and Deputy Chancellor of Soroti University respectively.
In an affidavit sworn on 18th October 2022, Dr. Omagor Charles through his legal team headed by M/s Tumwebaze, Kasirye & Co. Advocates want a declaration that, “the purported expired contracts of appointment of the 3rd and 4th respondents to the positions of Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice Chancellor of Soroti University respectively were irregular, illegal, null and void.”
He also wants the court to declare that the process, approval and re – appointment of the 3rd and 4th respondents as vice chancellor and deputy vice chancellor of the 1st respondent was null and void.
He further wants the legal opinion of the 5th respondent upon which the second respondent based on to re-appoint 3rd and 4th respondents be nullified claiming that it was erroneous and void.
“A declaration that the acts of the University council in acting upon and upholding the irregular and illegal directive of the 2nd respondent soliciting for recommendation to reappoint the 3rd and 4th respondents was and is null and void ab-initio,” further reads a petition.
Dr. Omagor is now requesting the court to quash the re-appointment of the 3rd and the 4th respondents and remove them from respective offices immediately for having been irregularly appointed to the respective offices.
He also asks court to issue an order directing the 1st and 2nd respondents to desist from ring fencing the position of the vice chancellor and deputy vice chancellor but instead allow for inclusive participation of all qualified Ugandans on merit and further declare that the positions are vacant.
He also wants the court to direct the 3rd and 4th respondents to refund all monies or funds illegally received by them as Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice Chancellor of Soroti University and the same is refunded to the consolidated fund.
Soroti University is a public University that was gazetted on 16th July 2015 under statutory instrument No.034 of 2015.
Dr. Omagor becomes a second lecturer to question the appointment of Pr. Ikoja and Okema.
Prof Deo Olila, one of the professors who had applied for the position of Vice Chancellor of Soroti University recently petitioned Speaker of Parliament Anita Among and IGG Beti Kamya over the manner in which the recruitment of the institution’s VC and Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC) was conducted.
According to an online news agency Mulengera News, Prof. Olila expressed concern with the way in which Prof Robert Ikoja, the Chairman of the Task-force for the establishment of Soroti University, came to be referred to as the VC, and later confirmed in substantive capacity without being subjected to a competitive search process.
Prof Olila also wondered how Prof. Omaswa had halted the search process on the guidance of the Solicitor General, an office he observes is lower than that of the Attorney General.
Juma Hassan Nyene, the Soroti University Secretary while speaking to TNN at the University premises on Monday 31st October 2022 confirmed that the university has received summons from court and they are now preparing their response.
“I have talked to the legal department and they have confirmed receipt of the matter. We are now preparing our response,” Nyene said before asking our reporter to speak to the University Council Secretary to explain the process that led to the appointment of Prof. Ikoja and Okema.
Council secretary however declined to comment on the matter citing prejudice.
But while speaking to the media after his appointment recently at his office, Prof. Ikoja revealed that he was also among the applicants who applied for the job.
He blamed the mess on the team that published the advert accusing them for not understanding how Universities are run and governed.
“Whatever happens let it happen, because I also responded to the advert,” Prof. Ikoja told the media.