ASUU Finally Breaks Silence On The Dismissal Of UNILAG VC

The national body of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Wednesday, rejected the removal of Oluwatoyin Ogundipe as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG).

The Council, chaired by lawyer and businessman, Wale Babalakin, last Wednesday announced the “removal” of Mr Ogundipe for alleged misconduct.

The decision was taken at the Council’s emergency meeting in Abuja during which a probe report was considered, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.

A panel report, exclusively published by PREMIUM TIMES, indicted Mr Ogundipe for financial misappropriations and contract fraud in the university.

Although Mr Ogundipe rejected his removal, accusing the council of not following due process in its actions, Theophilus Soyombo has been appointed in an acting capacity to replace him.

The Senate, alumni body, as well as other concerned parties, have condemned the removal of Mr Ogundipe.

“We reaffirm our confidence in the leadership of Professor Toyin Ogundipe as Vice-Chancellor of the university,” the ASUU branch chairman, Dele Ashiru, stressed last week.

The embattled Professor had kick-started a court process to challenge the decision of the Babalakin-led council’s decision.

Meanwhile, on several forums and media appearances, Mr Babalakin had justified the council’s decision, insisting that the verdict stands.

In a statement issued after a press conference, signed by its national chairman, Biodun Ogunyemi, the body of lecturers said it received the news of the purported removal of the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) by the Governing Council chaired by Mr Babalakin with absolute shock and total disappointment.

“We are shocked not because we regard Professor Oluwatoyin T. Ogundipe as a saint but for the fact that all available evidence indicates that he was not taken through the due process. In spite of Dr Babalakin spirited efforts to defend the indefensible, it is now clear to all and sundry that there is more to the story coming from the senior member of the bar.”

“For the avoidance of doubt, Dr. Wale Babalakin should be reminded that the knowledge of procedures and processes for appointment and removal of Vice-Chancellors is not the exclusive preserve of “legal luminaries because the sources are out there in the public space. Curiously, he has been quoting a strange law – the “Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment) Act of 2009”, which is not known to any other stakeholder, and the basis of his Council’s decision.

The body accused Mr Babalakin of ‘dragging’ its negotiation of the 2009 FGN-ASUU agreement with the federal government without a concrete result.

“It is public knowledge that ASUU has consistently been at the forefront of the struggle for University Autonomy in Nigeria. As we speak. “University Autonomy and Academic Freedom is one of the four key items listed for renegotiation in the 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement which Dr Wale Babalakin-led Team has unduly dragged for three-and-half years without any concrete results!”

“Law puts it, the amendments of 2003 and 2012 not yet formally incorporated are to be made into the enabling laws under the principle of incorporation by reference”. Dr. Babalakin appears to have been quoting Section 3(8) of the Principal Act (as amended) which states: “The Vice-Chancellor may be removed from office by the Governing Council on grounds of gross misconduct or inability to discharge the functions of his office an a result of infirmity of the body or mind, at the initiative of the Council, Senate or the Congregation after due process.

Mr Ogunyemi said the Pro-Chancellor has been evasive on two interrelated questions; “1. Did the Senate participate in the process as required by the Law? and (2) Was the due process followed?”

“ASUU fully supports the UNILAG Senate’s rejection of the Dr Wale Babalakin-led Governing Council’s ill-informed decision to remove the Vice-Chancellor.”

ASUU, however, called for President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately “constitute a Special Visitation Panel to look into the immediate and remote causes of the events that led to the purported removal of Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe VC of UNILAG with a view to bringing anyone found culpable to book.”

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