Justice Steven Adah of the Federal High Court in Ikeja yesterday ordered that the renaming of the University of Lagos to Moshood Abiola University, Lagos be suspended pending the determination of the suit challenging the action.
The judge in his interim order also asked that status quo be maintained on the issue.
He repeated the order in the two suits filed separately by the alumni association and some students of the university challenging the propriety of renaming the university through a broadcast by President Goodluck Jonathan.
"No action should be taken to jeopardise this res (subject matter of the suit) pending the hearing and determination of the suit," he said.
The judge's order followed the requests by the counsel representing the plaintiffs in the two suits, Mr. Afolabi Fashanu (SAN).
Fashanu, had urged the court to give an "an interim order" to maintain the status quo, saying that the application for the order was urgent because the Federal Government was "desperate" to give effect to the presidential pronouncement.
At yesterday's proceedings, the two defence counsel, Prof. Taiwo Osipitan (SAN) representing the University of Lagos and the Governing Council of the university and Mrs. Titi Akinlawon (SAN) representing the Senate of the University of Lagos did not oppose the request for the order.
The Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) and the National Assembly, both the fourth and fifth defendants in the suits - were not represented at the yesterday's proceedings despite confirmation by the plaintiffs' counsel that all parties in the suits had been duly served with the court process.
Also, Osipitan and Akinlawon are yet to file any defence, saying they had just been briefed. The judge adjourned the matter till July 4 for hearing.
The respondents in the two suits are the University of Lagos, the Council of the University of Lagos, the Senate of the University of Lagos, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Bello Adoke and the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The National President and Secretary of the Alumni Association of the university, Prof. Olayide Abass and Femi Olatunji, respectively, on behalf of the association, instituted the suit seeking nine reliefs as those contained in the one filed by the students.
The seven students suing on behalf of the entire students of the university are, Ogunmola Olajide, Olawaye Elijah, Boatman Eniekenemi, Mathias Abraham, Asimiyu Ayodeji, Banjo Omojomi and Balogun Ismalia. Justice Adahe, however, directed that the two suits be harmonised.
The plaintiffs are seeking the court to declare that "the pronouncement of President of Republic of Nigeria in his national broadcast of May 29, 2012 to the effect that 'the University of Lagos is renamed by the Federal Government of Nigeria, Moshood Abiola University, Lagos is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever. and howsoever."
They are also seeking an order of injunction, restraining "the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by the fourth defendant (the Attorney General of the Federation) either by itself or acting through any of its agencies, organs, person or persons howsoever from renaming or changing the name of the University of Lagos with the name Moshood Abiola University pursuant to the national broadcast of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29, 2012 and/or giving effect in any manner whatsoever to the said broadcast."
Among other orders being sought by the plaintiffs is one restraining the university and its Council from complying with the President's broadcast and another restraining the Senate of the university from "awarding or attempting to award any Degree, certificate or Diploma of the University of Lagos in any name whatsoever (particularly Moshood Abiola University) other than the university of Lagos."