UNILAG crisis: FG inaugurates visitation panel

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A Special Visitation Panel to look into the crisis rocking the University of Lagos has been inaugurated by the federal government.

The panel headed by Prof Tukur Sa’ad and Grace Ekanem as secretary was inaugurated on Wednesday by the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu.

The panel became inevitable following the crisis that rocked the university days after the Governing Council led by Wale Babalakin (SAN) sacked the vice chancellor, Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe for alleged gross misconduct and financial recklessness.

The situation assumed a new dimension when the ousted vice chancellor headed for the court to challenge his removal, prompting President Muhammadu Buhari to direct that both Ogundipe and Babalakin should recuse themselves from official duties at the university until after the assignment of a visitation panel to the school.

The minister who inaugurated the panel which also has Victor Onuoha; Prof Ikenna Onyido; Prof Ekanem Braide; Prof Adamu Usman and Chief Jimoh Bankole as members on behalf of the president gave the committee two weeks to conclude its assignment and submit its report.

He warned the members against interfering in the activities of the university management, while encouraging the stakeholders in the university to fully cooperate with the panel and to allow it to work unhindered.

“Councils are to lay down policies while managements are to implement them, but over the past one year, the ministry has been inundated with complaints and correspondences from the management and the governing council of the University of Lagos as well as the National Assembly, on the lingering governance issues in the institution, including allegations of financial infractions and breach of responsibilities.”

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He insisted that like he said about a month ago when he inaugurated the reconstituted governing councils of 13 federal universities, chairmen and members of the council must ensure that they do not interfere with the day-to-day administrative activities of their respective university managements.

The minister lamented that the crisis in the university had lingered in spite of several interventions by the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Education, stakeholders and the National Universities Commission leading to the removal of the VC by the governing council during its meeting on August 12, 2020.

Adamu observed that rather than stabilize the situation, the appointment of an acting VC further worsened the crisis prompting the president to set up the visitation panel.

“Due process was alleged not to have been followed in the removal and appointment of the vice-chancellor and the acting vice-chancellor, respectively.

“This led to the widespread protests, outright rejection, and lack of acceptability of the acting vice-chancellor by the university community.

“The President and Visitor to the University, after due consideration of the report of the crisis in the university, particularly the polarization and unhealthy relationship between the vice-chancellor and the chairman and pro-chancellor and some members of the governing council, approved the constitution of a seven-man Special Visitation Panel to the institution.”

Among other things, the panel was expected to review the report of the governing council’s Sub-Committee on Review of the Expenditure of the University of Lagos since May 2017 and make appropriate recommendations, after affording all those indicted an opportunity to defend themselves.

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It would also examine the steps taken by the council leading to the removal of Ogundipe, and ascertain whether due process was followed as stipulated in the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment) Act, 2003, and the principle of fair hearing adhered to.

The panel would also determine whether the process (if any) leading to the appointment of the acting vice~chancellor for the university was consistent with the provisions of the enabling Act and make appropriate recommendations, including sanctions for all those found culpable by the Special Visitation Team, on the allegations contained in the report as well as other subsequent actions arising therefrom.

It would also make recommendations that will assist the government to make decisions that would ensure peaceful, stable, and effective administration of the university.

 

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