The Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, on Wednesday became the first casualty of the crisis between him and the Governing Council of the institution following the termination of his appointment.
The sacking of the vice chancellor was announced at a meeting of the Governing Council of UNILAG held at the National Universities Commission (NUC) in Abuja.
While seven members of the council were said to have voted for the removal of Ogundipe, four voted against it. But one of them voted that he should rather be placed on suspension.
The meeting was chaired by the UNILAG Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of its Governing Council, Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN).
A terse statement by the Registrar and Secretary to the Council, Oladejo Azeez, titled, ‘Notice to the general public on the removal of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos’, read, “Ogundipe was sacked based on investigation of serious acts of wrongdoing, gross misconduct, financial recklessness and abuse of office.
“The general public is hereby notified that at an emergency meeting held on Wednesday, August 12, 2020, and in accordance with the statutory powers vested in it by law, the Governing Council of University of Lago removed Prof. Oluwatoyin T. Ogundipe, FAS, from office as Vice Chancellor of the university with immediate effect.
“The decision was based on council’s investigation of serious acts of wrongdoing, gross misconduct, financial recklessness and abuse of office against Prof. Oluwatoyin T. Ogundipe, FAS.”
UNILAG appoints Soyombo as new acting VC
Meanwhile, the Governing Council of the UNILAG has announced the appointment of Prof. Theophilus Soyombo as the acting Vice Chancellor of the institution.
The announcement of Soyombo as the VC was contained in a statement issued at 12:05 am on Thursday by the Registrar and Secretary to the Council, Oladejo Azeez.
He advised the public to totally disregard the statement attributed to Ogundipe denying his removal.
The statement reads, “Members of the public are hereby advised to totally disregard the statement attributed to the said former vice chancellor. The position remains that he was lawfully removed by the Governing Council at a meeting fully attended by all Council members.
“I also wish to use the opportunity to inform members of the public that Council at the said meeting duly appointed Professor Theophilus Omololu Soyombo of the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Lagos as Vice Chancellor of the university in an acting capacity.
ASUU condemns UNILAG VC’s sacking
However, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, UNILAG Branch, has condemned the purported sacking of the institution’s vice chancellor.
The Chairman of ASUU in the institution, Dr Dele Ashiru, said the Chairman of the Governing Council, Dr Wale Babalakin, was behind the plot.
Ashiru insisted that Ogundipe remained the VC, adding that his sacking was against the law and would not stand.
“His removal is illegal and uncalled for. Our union condemns in the strongest term the purported removal. It is the machination of the pro-chancellor to destabilise this university and our union has been on the forefront of the agitation against a reckless and lawless pro-chancellor.
“We reaffirm our confidence in the leadership of Professor Toyin Ogundipe as Vice Chancellor of the university,” the union’s chairman stressed.
Ogundipe debunks report of removal
Reacting, UNILAG VC, Prof. Ogundipe, in a statement on Wednesday, refuted reports of his removal and added that he remained the vice chancellor of the institution.
The statement, which was signed by the vice chancellor himself, was titled, ‘Re: Notice to the General Public on the Removal of the Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos by Oladejo Azeez, Esq’.
He said, “The purported removal is an illegality and cannot stand as it is in clear violation of the University of Lagos Act as amended by the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment) Act 2003.”
VC removal ridiculing our regulation – UNILAG Senate
In a related development, a representative of the UNILAG Senate in council, Prof. Bola Oboh, has said that the sudden removal of the Vice Chancellor has ridiculed the institution’s regulation.
A statement signed by Prof. Oboh called on members of the Senate to fight the unlawful manner in which Ogundipe was removed by the Governing Council.
“Dear Senate members, the procedure for removal of persons in office is clear and this was pointed out to Babalakin several times but he turned deaf ears. He said he would announce the acting Vice Chancellor at 5pm,” she added.
FG distances self from VC’s sacking
But the Federal Government on Wednesday distanced itself from the purported sacking of the vice chancellor of the University of Lagos by its Governing Council, saying it has not been briefed.
The Director of Press in the Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Bem Goong, in a statement said while the FMoE was awaiting proper briefing from UNILAG authorities, it was important to reaffirm that the council had the power to hire and fire, but must follow due process.