BY Friday Olokor
The crisis at the University of Lagos following the sacking of its Vice Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, has deepened with the Federal Government directing him and the chairman of its Governing Council, Dr Wale Babalakin (SAN), to step aside.
Accordingly, the government said they should both step aside, pending the outcome of the Special Visitation Panel set up by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The government’s position was contained in a statement issued on Friday night by the Director, Press and Public Relations, in the Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Bem Goong.
The statement also directed the Senate of the university to “nominate an acting vice-chancellor from amongst its members for confirmation by the Governing Council.”
The statement was entitled: “FG directs Pro-Chancellor/Chairman of Governing Council of the University of Lagos, Dr B. O. Babalakin and the Vice Chancellor, Prof Oluwatoyin T. O. Ogundipe to recuse themselves from official duties, pending the outcome of the Special Visitation Panel set up by the President.”
The members of the panel are Prof Tukur Sa’ad (Chairman); Mr Victor Onuoha; Prof Ikenna Onyido; Prof Ekanem Braide; Prof Adamu Usman; Chief Jimoh Bankole and Mrs Grace Ekanem, who would serve as the secretary.
The panel’s terms of reference include “to determine whether the process (if any) leading to the appointment of the Acting Vice-Chancellor of the university was consistent with the provisions of the enabling Act,” and make recommendations, including sanctions, for all those found culpable.
The panel, which is to be inaugurated on Wednesday in Abuja, was given two weeks to submit its report.
The nominated members, according to the statement, shall “oversee the affairs of the university, pending government’s decision on the report of the special visitation panel.
Our correspondent reported that UNILAG Governing Council had in a statement by its Registrar and Secretary, Oladejo Azeez, entitled: “Notice to the general public on the removal of the Vice Chancellor of UNILAG,” said Ogundipe was sacked “based on investigation of serious acts of wrongdoing, gross misconduct, financial recklessness and abuse of office.”
Some hours later, Prof Theophilus Omololu Soyombo was announced as the acting Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos.
But on August 12, the Federal Government distanced itself from the purported sacking of Ogundipe by its Governing Council, saying it had not been briefed.
Goong had in a statement said while the FMoE would await proper briefing from UNILAG authorities, it was important to reaffirm that the council has the power to hire and fire but must follow due process.