-Buhari sacks acting VC
-Sets up a 7-man visitation panel
-Directs the school’s senate to nominate acting Vice-Chancellor
The ongoing crisis at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) has taken a new twist as President Muhammadu Buhari has directed Wale Babalakin, the Chairman of the school’s governing council/Prochancellor and Vice-Chancellor Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, to recuse themselves from official duties, pending the outcome of the Special Visitation Panel set up by the President.
Also, President Buhari sacked Prof. Theophilus Soyombo, the acting VC appointed by the governing council.
The suspension, sack, and establishment of a visitation panel was contained in a press statement signed by the spokesman of the Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Goong.
FG directs the Pro-Chancellor/Chairman of Council of the University of Lagos, Dr B. O. Babalakin and the Vice Chancellor, Prof.Oluwatoyin T.Ogundipe to recuse themselves from official duties, pending the outcome of the Special Visitation Panel set up by the President.
— Federal Ministry of Education (@NigEducation) August 22, 2020
“Government also directs the Senate of the University of Lagos to immediately convene to nominate an acting Vice-Chancellor from amongst its members for confirmation by the Governing Council,” the statement added.
The members of the panel are as thus:
1. Professor Tukur Sa’ad as Chairman
2. Barrister Victor Onuoha as member
3.Professor Ikenna Onyido as member
4.Professor Ekanem Braide as member
5.Professor Adamu K. Usman as member
6. Chief Jimoh Bankole as member
7. Barrister Grace Ekanem as Secretary.
In the statement, Buhari said that the panel will be given the following terms of reference:
-To review the report of the Council committee of review on the expenditure of the University of Lagos since May 2017 and make appropriate recommendations after affording all those indicted an opportunity to defend themselves;
-To examine the steps taken by the council leading to the removal of the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe and ascertaining whether due process was followed as stipulated in the Universities(Miscellaneous provisions) (Amendment) Act 2003 and the principle of fair hearing adhered to;
-To determine whether the process(if any) leading to the appointment of the Ag. Vice-Chancellor for the university was consistent with the provisions of the enabling Act;
-To make appropriate recommendations including sanctions for all those found culpable by special visitation team on the allegations contained in the report as well as other subsequent actions among therefrom; and
-To make any other recommendations that will assist the government to make decisions that will ensure peaceful, stable, effective administration of the university.
-The special visitation panel shall be inaugurated by the Honourable Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu at the Honourable Minister’s conference room on Wednesday, 26 August 2020 at 9 am.
Background to UNILAG Crisis
On August 12, the governing council of UNILAG chaired by Wale Babalakin held at the headquarters of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Abuja. According to reports, about 11 council members including Prof. Ogundipe who was accused of financial impropriety and gross misconduct were in attendance.
Ogundipe who has been at loggerheads with the Chairman of the governing council was sacked at the meeting.
In an official statement titled “Notice to the general public on the removal of the Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos” and signed by the Registrar/ Secretary to the Council, Oladejo Azeez, it reads that Ogundipe was removed from office based on alleged wrongdoing.
The statement read,” The general public is hereby notified that at an emergency meeting held on Wednesday, 12th August 2020 and in accordance with the statutory powers vested in it by law, the Governing Council of the University of Lagos removed Professor Oluwatoyin T. Ogundipe, FAS, from office as the Vice-Chancellor of the university with immediate effect.
“The decision was based on Council’s investigations of serious acts of wrongdoing, gross misconduct, financial recklessness and abuse of office against Professor Oluwatoyin T. Ogundipe, FAS.”