Sacked UNILAG VC heads to court

Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe

The recently sacked Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, has headed to the court over his removal from office by the university’s Governing Council.

On Thursday, Ogundipe briefed human rights lawyer and activist, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, to head to court and challenge his alleged illegal removal from office and redress the wrong done to him.

During a Governing Council meeting convened by Pro-Chancellor, Dr Wale Babalakin, on Wednesday, Ogundipe was sacked.

According to Ogundipe, the Council breached all known rules of natural justice and Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution in purportedly removing him from office, as he was never heard at all or ever made to face any panel or committee to defend himself against allegations of his alleged unauthorised expenditure of university funds leading to his purported removal from office.

It will be recalled that the House of Representatives had on 17th August, 2019, completely exonerated him of any wrongdoing after hearing from both the Babalakin-led Council and Ogundipe.

According to a statement Chief Ozekhome issued on behalf of Ogundipe on Thursday, the constitutional lawyer said his client believed that the emergency meeting at which he was purportedly removed was premeditated done and a deal decision to sack the VC.

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Ozekhome stated that “the VC was observed by journalists leaving the venue of the meeting with another Council member, Prof Bola Oboh, when they protested in vain that the main issue for discussion at the emergency meeting was not the VC’s investigation or removal which was item 5 on the agenda, but the 2020 budget of the University.

“It is believed that even the Representative of the Federal Ministry of Education, Prince Adetokunbo Adebanjo had also protested the proceedings, and voted against the VC’s removal by WhatsApp message as was directed by Dr. Babalakin (the chairman of Council) even in the absence of the VC.

“One of the issues in contention apart from denial of fair hearing is that the voting process was fundamentally flawed as votes of those who voted against the VC’s removal like Prince Adebanjo were allegedly not counted.

“The UNILAG Act available to us makes it clear that the VC must first be tried by a joint committee of the Senate and Council before any recommendation for his removal is sent to the council for debate and action.

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“Even then, the Council cannot remove him without the Senate first concurring, all of which were said never to have taken place at all.

“The Registrar of the University and Secretary to Council, Oladejo Azeez, had immediately published a “Notice to the General Public on the Removal of the Vice Chancellor University of Lagos”.

The VC had contended that “the purported removal is an illegality and cannot stand as it is in clear violation of the University of Lagos Act.”

Ozekhome urged all “Stakeholders of UNILAG and the general public to disregard this mischievous disinformation about the sitting Vice-Chancellor of UNILAG, Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, who he said still remains the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos”.

He noted that UNILAG Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has pitched tent with the embattled Vice Chancellor, saying it was “seriously amused by Dr. Wale Babalakin’s charade which purportedly removed the Vice Chancellor of our great University, Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe”.

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