Sacked UNILAG VC heads for court, leads workers’ protest

The sacked Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, on Thursday led a protest against his removal by the governing council of the school.

The sacking of the vice chancellor was announced during the meeting of the Governing Council of UNILAG at the National Universities Commission in Abuja on Wednesday.

The meeting was chaired by the UNILAG Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of its Governing Council, Dr Wale Babalakin.

The Thursday protest was held by four unions of the university –  the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, National Association of Academic Technologists, and Non-Academic Staff Union.

Ogundipe walked with the union members from the Senate building to the school’s gate.

Ogundipe, who later addressed the union members, said, “I remain dedicated to UNILAG. We are all builders and have all invested so much to this great university. I have been here for 30 years in different capacities. Let’s wait for the directives from the government. I remain a functional member of the union; we are enjoying peace here, let’s remain peaceful,” he said.

The unions also called on the Ministry of Education and the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission to intervene in the crisis.

A statement jointly signed by the unions reads partly, “Our unions are using this medium to call on the Minister of Education and the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission to stop this charade and lawlessness being perpetrated by the Dr Wale Babalakin-led University of Lagos Council given its potentials for causing disharmony and industrial instability in the University of Lagos.”

ASUU-UNILAG Chairman, Dr Dele Ashiru, also said, “We condemn in its totality the purported removal of our Vice Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe. We affirm our absolute confidence in the leadership of Prof. Toyin Ogundipe as the Vice Chancellor of UNILAG.”

The NAAT Chairman, Mr Sulyman Lawal; NASU Chairman, Mr Ajibade Kehinde and SSANU Chairman, Mr Olusola Sowunmi, also voiced their disapproval of the removal of the VC.”

Meanwhile, Ogundipe has engaged a prominent Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ozekhome, to file a suit to challenge his removal from office.

His letter of instruction dated August 12, 2020, and addressed to Ozekhome, was seen by our correspondent on Thursday.

Ogundipe stated in the letter that the act was without due process and contrary to the university’s Act.

His instruction to Ozekhome on his official letterhead reads in part, “I hereby formally brief you to institute legal proceedings against the council, pro-chancellor of the University of Lagos, and others based on their illegal and unconstitutional act of purportedly removing me from office as the vice chancellor of the University of Lagos.

“I honestly believe that this action was carried out without due process and contrary to the university’s Act and other extant laws governing discipline, suspension and removal of the vice chancellor of the university.

Ozekhome confirmed receiving Ogundipe’s instructions to challenge his sacking in court.

Also, UNILAG Senate has rejected Ogundipe’s removal as the institution’s VC.

In a resolution on Thursday, the top decision-making body of the institution passed a vote of no confidence in the council led by Babalakin and called for its dissolution.

The body also rejected the appointment of an acting Vice Chancellor, Prof. Theophilus Soyombo.

The resolution was signed by the Senate Chairman, Prof. Chioma Agomo, and five other members: Prof. Dele Olowokudejo, Prof. Oluwole Atoyebi, Prof. Folasade Akinsola, Prof. Lucian Chukwu and Prof. Ayodele Atsenuwa.

“Due process was not followed in the purported appointment of the acting vice chancellor as the Senate was neither informed nor invited to forward its recommendation to council.

“Its functions and its powers have been completely appropriated by the council in breach of the law.

“Senate resolved to reaffirm its confidence in Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, as the substantive Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos,” the statement said. – Punch.

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