Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike in Abia State has disengaged no fewer than 460 temporary workers, whose appointments reportedly lapsed in February.
The affected workers were engaged by the former Vice Chancellor, Prof. Hillary Edeoga, who left office in March 2016.
A circular issued by the university stated that the temporary appointment, with one year validity, had lapsed.
The circular, dated April 28, 2017, was signed by the Registrar, Dr. Azubuike Nwaokocha, and made available to newsmen in Umuahia on Wednesday.
Nwaokocha directed the affected workers to “reapply for renewal of their appointments” through their Heads of Department.
He requested the HODs to give “cogent reasons” why the applicants’ temporary appointments should be renewed.
Adanma Odefa, the institution’s Public Relations Officer, dispelled speculation that the incumbent Vice Chancellor, Prof. Francis Otunta, was under pressure to lay off workers engaged in the twilight of Edeoga’s administration.
She said: “Otunta is just following the procedure of doing things according to the rules of the university.”
Odefa alleged that the affected workers “were hired illegally” by the past administration.
She said: “There was a bit of a mess that needed to be sorted out.
“It did not just start with this administration.
“The last administration hired no fewer than 460 people without following due process.”
The PRO said the terms of the appointment showed that “the appointment lapses automatically after one year, if it is not renewed.
“The appointment of the workers in question lapsed in February.
“Technically speaking, they are no longer staff members of the university.”
Meanwhile, the development had generated tension and panic among the affected workers, who pleaded with the university to reverse the measure and regularise their appointment.
Some of the workers, who sought anonymity, alleged that the measure was “a calculated attempt by Otunta to create an opportunity to recruit his own people”.