Babalakin: We Followed Due Process in Sacking UNILAG’s VC

Wale Babalakin

•Committee of Nigerian VCs opposes removal, rejects acting VC

By Bennett Oghifo, Uchechukwu Nnaike and Funmi Ogundare

The Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, University of Lagos, Dr. Wale Babalakin, yesterday said the Council followed due process in the removal of the university’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe.

Babalakin stated this when he briefed journalists in Lagos, adding that under the laws of the university, voting on contentious issues was either done in secret or in the open.

Regardless, the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Universities in Nigeria (CVCUN) has condemned the removal of Ogundipe, saying it was done without due process and that he was not given fair hearing.

Also, after an emergency meeting during the week, the University’s Senate, rejected the Vice-Chancellor’s removal, saying in its resolution that “due process was not followed,” and passed vote-of-no confidence on the Governing Council.

However, on the process leading up to the VC’s removal, Babalakin, who said the VC was removed because he allegedly misappropriated the university’s funds, added, “We agreed to have a secret ballot that we have always had when there are contentious issues. The votes were counted, they were not just votes, everybody wrote their own comments and I read it out to everybody. “

Reacting to Ogundipe’s law suit against the governing council, he said when a VC is removed and he wants to complain, he can write to the visitor, he cannot on his own declare that he has not been removed, neither can he confront his employers. He cannot while still in office, institute an action against his employers. In law, apart from being removed, he has resigned. I think Ogundipe’s legal advisers have not done a thorough job.

He needs to go and read the law properly.”

On the resolution of the institution’s Senate, Babalaki said, “The Senate did not have a meeting, because it could not have had one. The authority to call a meeting rests with the Vice-Chancellor and, as at the time he called the meeting, he was no longer Vice-Chancellor.

“Most people don’t know what the powers of the Council are vis-à-vis the removal of the Vice-Chancellor. I assure you that there was full compliance with the law in the removal of the Vice-Chancellor.

“Series of attempts were made to reconcile, but the plain truth is that Professor Ogundipe has been looting the University, and looting it recklessly. That’s the plain truth; we shouldn’t hide it.”

Babalakin further alleged that Ogundipe had been indicted for forging documents in recruitment processes.

He said members of the Council decided to remove Ogundipe because they “want the best for the university.”

He added: “There is no crisis in UNILAG. What you have is a vocal minority benefiting extensively from the resources of the university.”

But the Committee of Vice Chancellors said Prof. Ogundipe should have been given an opportunity to defend himself, adding that the appointment of an acting Vice Chancellor outside the three deputy Vice Chancellors of the institution, goes against the laws establishing Nigerian universities.

The Secretary-General of CVCUN, Prof. Yakubu Aboki Ochefu, told journalists yesterday that UNILAG has three Deputy Vice Chancellors and that the appointment of an acting Vice Chancellor, outside the three deputies was another problem for the university.

“The council has gone ahead to announce a new (acting) Vice Chancellor; the extant laws state that one of his Deputies should be appointed to act.

UNILAG has three Deputy Vice Chancellors, none of them was appointed as the acting Vice Chancellor and somebody else entirely was appointed.

“This is going to pose another problem because the Senate will not allow such a person to chair their meeting because they don’t know him within the context of laws establishing Universities,” said Prof. Ochefu.

He said the ugly situation in UNILAG would not augur well for the administration of Nigerian universities, saying the issues presently favoured the institution’s Senate which is demanding that due process be followed in the removal of the Vice Chancellor. “It is a funny situation,” added Ochefu.