*Says VC Not Indicted Without Providing Evidence
The Federal Government has insisted that a former Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council of the University of Lagos, Dr Olawale Babalakin, remains indicted contrary to some media reports that he has been cleared by the regular Visitation Panel to the University.
In a statement by the Director Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Ben Bem Goong, on Sunday in Abuja, the Ministry said Babalakin was “heavily indicted” by the Special Presidential Visitation Panel to the University following the controversial removal of the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe.
He noted that the leadership crisis that engulfed the University of Lagos was the aftermath of the removal of the Vice-Chancellor without due process.
Goong pointed out that one of the key terms of reference of the Special Visitation Panel to UNILAG in the wake of the leadership crisis, was to ascertain if due process was followed by the Babalakin-led Governing Council in the removal of the Vice-Chancellor.
According to the Ministry spokesman, the Special Presidential Visitation Panel returned a comprehensive verdict of guilt on the Chairman and his Council, stating that the process leading to the removal of the Vice-Chancellor was “divisive, humiliating and crude” and that this has never been vitiated by the regular Visitation Panel as Nigerians are being made to believe.
He further disclosed that a White Paper Committee was set up by the Federal Government which recommended the sack of the Chairman of the Governing Council of the University of Lagos and his entire Council for infractions bordering on lack of due process in the removal of Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe.
Babalakin had resigned his appointment a few days before the release of the Special Visitation Panel report.
The highlights of the findings and recommendations approved by President Muhammadu Buhari leading to the dissolution of the then Babalakin Governing Council were as follows: “The removal of Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe as the Vice-Chancellor did not follow due process.
“The Vice-Chancellor was not granted an opportunity to defend himself on the allegations upon which his removal was based. He should accordingly be re-instated.
“All allegations made against the Vice-Chancellor and the management of the University before and after the Constitution of the Special Visitation Panel should be referred to regular Visitation Panel for thorough investigation and necessary recommendations.
“The process adopted by the Council in the appointment of Professor Omololu Soyombo as Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University was inconsistent with the provisions of the Law relating to the appointment of an Acting Vice-Chancellor.
“The Governing Council should be dissolved. Mr. President after careful review of the report has approved all the recommendations of the Panel.
Accordingly: “Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe is hereby reinstated as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos.
“The Governing Council of the University of Lagos Chaired by Dr. B. O. Babalakin is hereby dissolved. Mr. President hopes these steps will bring peace, stability, focus, and direction to the University.”
According to the statement issued by the Ministry, reference being made to the report of the regular Visitation Panel to have exonerated Babalakin was completely misleading.
“The regular Presidential Visitation Panel which was chaired by a reputable Four-Star General, Martin Luther Agwai (retd), had no mandate to review the decision of the Special Presidential Visitation Panel and the White Paper that came out it, and could, therefore, not have exonerated the Chairman and his Council,” it said.
Goong, explained that Government had earlier issued a White Paper on the report of the 2020 Special Presidential Visitation to the University of Lagos, which culminated in the dissolution of the former Governing Council and reinstatement of the Vice-Chancellor, Ogundipe.
He said the discreet attempt to ridicule the work of the panel and mislead the Nigerian public was unfortunate and regrettable, saying this was also capable of undermining the great work being done by Senator Lanre Tejuosho led Governing Council to restore normalcy to the institution.
He also assured stakeholders that the government was in the process of setting up White Paper Committees to address all the findings and recommendations of the regular visitation panels, including that of the University of Lagos in a holistic manner.
Recall that the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, while receiving the reports of the regular Visitation Panels on 31st of August, 22021, pledged to implement the recommendations of the panels in line with the desire of the Government to reposition the institution and create a conducive environment for teaching, learning, and research.