The Committee of Vice Chancellors of Universities in Nigeria CVC, has called on the Governing Council of the University of Lagos UNILAG, to follow due process in the removal of the Vice Chancellor and provide the University head the opportunity to defend himself.
The Secretary General of the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Universities in Nigeria, Prof. Yakubu Aboki Ochefu FHSN, MNAL, made the call in Abuja during an interview session with VON on the issue of removal of the Vice Chancellor of UNILAG, Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe.
Prof. Ochefu stated that the law establishing universities gives the council the power to hire and fire a Vice Chancellor but not in an arbitrary process.
“The challenge we have here with the particular action is that the council did not follow due process and indeed the communication from the embattled Vice Chancellor is clear to that effect”
“It is very clear, just like the process of selecting a Vice Chancellor, you have a selection committee and they will advertise the job and interview the applicants and make recommendation to council and the council will appoint one person out of the three applicants. In the procedure of removing a Vice Chancellor, you also have to set up a joint council Senate committee that will charge the VC, there he will be given the opportunity to defend himself and then from there, the submission will be presented to the council and they will now take the decision” Prof Ocheku said.
He added that “what the university community is saying in UNILAG is that, this process was not followed, a committee was set up charging the Vice Chancellor of a number of issues, but he was not given opportunity to defend himself and we believe that here the law has not be properly adhered to”
Speaking on the Council’s position and the Vice Chancellor’s claims, Prof. Ocheku said the situation is presently in favour of the University Senate which is seeking procedural process.
The CVC Sec Gen decried the situation describing it as unhealthy for a university of such calibre or any other varsity in Nigeria.
According to him, “We believe the government is also not happy about this. As CVC we advise the Council members to take a step back and allow the process of removing the Vice Chancellor as established by the law to take its course.
“It is a simple process, if you find the man guilty, the council can remove him, but they should go through the normal process, which is that of fair hearing” Prof. Ochefu said.
Appointment of a new VC
Speaking on the appointment of a new Vice Chancellor, the CVC Sec Gen, said the appointment will pose another problem to the university.
He explained that the extant laws of the University state that if a Vice Chancellor is removed, one of the deputies should be appointed to act.
“The council has gone ahead to announce a new VC. The extant laws state that one of his deputies should be appointed to act. UNILAG has 3 deputy Vice Chancellors, none of them was appointed as the acting VC and somebody else entirely was appointed. This is going to pose another problem because Senate will not allow such a person to chair their meeting because they don’t know him within the context of laws establishing universities” Prof Ochefu said.
He expressed worry over the handling of the matter by the Council chairman, Wale Babalakin, saying procedural matter as such is being trampled upon.
“The chairman of the council knew that the tenure of 2 members of the Senate of UNILAG had expired so he waited for the members not to be in council to get majority vote. So it was like a hatchet job. We don’t want it to appear like that because of the integrity of university of UNILAG. The integrity is very high and we don’t want members of council to degenerate to this type of situation that people will be seeing it as ego fight between the Vice Chancellor and the Chairman of the council.
“As it is now we have a stalemate and it is looking more in favour of the university Senate than the council. The council has the power to remove a Vice Chancellor but as it is now they haven’t gone through a normal process“ Prof Ochefu said.
Yet to be briefed
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu had stated that he was yet to be briefed on the developments at the University of Lagos regarding the removal of the Vice Chancellor.
He also said he awaits the proper briefing from the University authorities, while reaffirming that though the Council has the power to hire and fire but due process must be followed in doing so.
How we got here
The Governing Council of the University of Lagos had confirmed the removal of the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe from office.
The council had stated in a public notice that Ogundipe’s sack was based on its findings after investigating allegations of misconduct against him.
“The general public is hereby notified that at an emergency meeting held on Wednesday, August 12, and in accordance with the statutory powers vested in it by Law, the Governing Council at the University of Lagos removed Professor Oluwatoyin T. Ogundipe, from office as Vice-Chancellor of the University with immediate effect,” it stated.
The notice was signed by the University Registrar and Secretary of the council, Mr Oladejo Azeez.
“This decision was based on the Council’s investigation of serious acts of wrongdoing, gross misconduct, financial recklessness and abuse of office against Professor Oluwatoyin T. Ogundipe,” it explained and announced Prof. Theophilus Soyombo as the acting Vice-Chancellor.