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Wale Babalakin Resigns As UNILAG Pro-Chancellor!

First Bank Nigeria

Wale Babalakin has resigned as pro-chancellor of the University of Lagos.

The senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) announced his resignation in a letter dated September 15, 2020, addressed to Adamu Adamu, minister of education.

The development comes weeks after Babalakin was suspended by the federal government.

Before his suspension, the institution’s governing council removed Oluwatoyin Ogundipe as vice-chancellor of UNILAG over allegations of financial misappropriation and abuse of office.

But Ogundipe had rejected the suspension, insisting that due process was not followed.

Following the development, the federal government had set up a panel to probe the crisis rocking the institution, and asked Babalakin and Ogundipe to recuse themselves from their respective positions.

John Momoh, chief executive officer of Channels TV and president of UNILAG alumni association, was appointed as acting chairman of the governing council.

The university’s senate later elected Folasade Ogunsola, the institution’s deputy vice-chancellor for development services, as acting VC.

In his resignation notice, Babalaki rejected the composition of the visitation panel, stating that its  actions showed the probe would be unfair.

“Recent events have made my position in these two offices untenable. I led the Governing Council of the University to remove the Vice-Chancellor of the University from office for amongst other reasons: (a) Corruption and financial recklessness; (b) Forgery; (c) Complicity in the collapse of the University library and planned cover up; (d) Deliberate policy of wrongfully concealing information; (e) Depriving the Faculties in the University of funds; (f) Concealing and distorting finances of the Internally Generating Units of the University; (g) Undermining the academic process and seeking to appoint a Professor by fiat; (h) Siphoning of the University’s funds through dubious contract awards; (i) Undermining the office of the Registrar; (j) Failure to follow due process in organizing the University’s convocation ceremony; and (k) Sponsoring or acquiescing in the unconstitutional actions of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Lagos chapter,” the letter read.

“Sir, it is noteworthy that all the Federal Government Representatives who are the independent members on the Governing Council voted for the removal of the Vice-Chancellor. After calm had been restored in the University, the Visitor acting, within his powers, set up a Presidential Visitation Panel to review the actions taken by Governing Council.

“The Vice-Chancellor (who had been removed from office) and myself were told to recuse ourselves for the duration of the Visitation Panel. I find it difficult to understand how a non-executive Chairman of a Governing Council could be requested to recuse himself during the visitation.

“The Vice-Chancellor could only recuse himself if he were still in office. Implicit in this position is that the Vice-Chancellor was acknowledged as still being in office despite his removal.”

Babalakin alleged that members of the panel were only interested in exonerating Ogundipe.

He listed the terms of reference of the visitation panel, stating that it was “clearly indicated to any discerning person that the Visitation Panel was empanelled to exonerate the Vice-Chancellor and implicate the Pro-Chancellor”.

He claimed that some of the VCs who made up the panel were from “relatively smaller universities”, who may not understand the workings of UNILAG as a federal institution, and as such, would not be in the best position to determine a fair hearing.

“The membership of the Visitation Panel is simply inappropriate in the circumstance. How can a committee of Vice-Chancellors determine the culpability or otherwise of the actions of a Pro-Chancellor and a Governing Council?” he queried.

“On the face of it, it is simply wrong! Furthermore, the Vice-Chancellors on the Panel were drawn from relatively smaller universities who are not likely to have a comprehensive understanding of the procedure contained in the University of Lagos Act (as amended).

“Even Vice-Chancellors of state universities were included. As Chairman of the Federal Government Negotiation Team, I know the challenges faced with the administration of state universities.

“I only appeared before the Panel out of my very great respect for you, Sir. My training as a lawyer revealed to me very clearly, that the Panel was inappropriate for the assignment.

“During my appearance, I made it very clear that I was appearing in protest and the Panel, as constituted, could not determine the issues before it. The active participation of the staff of the Ministry of Education in the Panel and their contributions throughout the sittings, especially the hounding of witnesses who came to testify against the Vice-Chancellor was enough to show very clearly that the technocrats in the Ministry had a defined agenda.

“Their obvious agenda was to humiliate the Governing Council. Sir, fortunately there is a verbatim recording of the proceedings of the Visitation Panel, and you may wish to direct objective persons to listen to the recording.”

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