Nigeria: Unilag Crisis - Council Names Acting VC As ASUU Condemns Ogundipe's 'Removal'

Hours after saying it has removed Oluwatoyin Ogundipe as the vice-chancellor of the University of Lagos, the school's council said it has appointed Theophilus Soyombo in acting capacity.

Crisis brewed on Wednesday when the council resolved at its emergency meeting held in Abuja to sack Mr Ogundipe over allegations of infractions and gross misconduct.

Mr Ogundipe fired back, saying his "purported removal" was a "mischievous disinformation" as "the extant provisions of the law have not been complied with" by the council.

It appears the action of the governing council, however, does not have the backing of the law stablishing the university. The law vests the power to remove a vice-chancellor on the Nigerian president.

By the provision, the president of the country can remove the vice-chancellor "after due consultation with the Council and the Senate acting through the Minister of Education." But a publicist of the ministry said "the ministry is yet to be briefed."

Asked the provision it followed to remove the VC, a member of the council who does not want to be named because he was not cleared to speak with the press on the matter, cited section 18 of the university law.

But checks by this newspaper on the said section talks about how the deputy vice-chancellor can be removed, not the vice-chancellor.

But the council in a statement Thursday maintained it acted lawfully and its decision to remove Mr Ogundipe stands, announcing Theophilus Soyombo as the interim head.

"I also wish to use the opportunity to inform members of the public that Council at the said meeting duly appointed Professor of the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Lagos as Vice Chancellor of the University in an Acting Capacity," the university's registrar and council secretary, Oladejo Azeez, said in a release.

"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," he added.

Background

The newly appointed acting vice-chancellor, Omololu Soyombo, graduated from the University of Lagos with a B.Sc in Sociology in 1977. Thereafter, he bagged his masters degree in Sociology from the University of Essex, England.

Now a professor of sociology, he teaches the course at the University of Lagos sociology department, where he specializes in, among other areas, the sociology of deviant behaviour in youths.

A member of the Nigerian Anthropological and Sociological Association and member Integrated Transport Initiative, Mr Soyombo is a former managing director of the University of Lagos Consult and former Dean faculty of Social Sciences.

Opposition

Meanwhile, the UNILAG chapter of Academic Staff Union of Universities has rejected the Mr Soyombo's appointment, condemning the purported sack of of Mr Ogundipe.

The union's chairman, Dele Ashiru, insisted Mr Ogundipe remained the union's recognised head, accusing Mr Babalakin of having vested interest.

"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," Mr Ashiru said.

"We reaffirm our confidence in the leadership of Professor Toyin Ogundipe as Vice Chancellor of the university," the union's chairman stressed.

According to the amended universities miscellaneous act of 2003, an an acting "vice-chancellor in all circumstances shall not be in office for more than 6 months."

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