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Buhari’s Visitation Panel Was Biased- Babalakin

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Zainab Sanni

Former Pro-chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Dr. Wale Babalakin has accused the UNILAG visitation panel of bias.

Babalakin who resigned on Thursday said the visitation panel constituted by President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the sack of Vice Chancellor, Prof. Toyin Ogundipe came with a pre-determined position to exonerate the VC and indict the pro-chancellor.

The resignation letter dated September 15 read in part: ”I would like to thank the President of the Federal of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari for giving me the opportunity to serve as the Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (the “University”) from May 2017 till date.

“I am also grateful that I was considered fit to be the Chairman of the Federal Government Negotiation Team on the Agreement reached with university unions in 2009, from 6th January 2017 till date. I equally want to thank you sir, for your role in recommending me to the President.

“Recent events have made my position in these two offices untenable.

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”I led the Governing Council of the University to remove the Vice-Chancellor of the University from office for among other reasons: (a)Corruption and financial recklessness; (b)Forgery; (c) Complicity in the collapse of the University library and planned cover up; (d) Deliberate policy of wrongfully concealing information; ( e) Depriving the Faculties in the University of funds; (f)Concealing and distorting finances of the Internally Generating Units of the University; (g)Undermining the academic process and seeking to appoint a Professor by fiat; (h) Siphoning of the University’s funds through dubious contract awards; (i)Undermining the office of the Registrar; (j) Failure to follow due process in organizing the University’s convocation ceremony; and (k)Sponsoring or acquiescing in the unconstitutional actions of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Lagos chapter.

“Sir, it is noteworthy that all the Federal Government Representatives who are the independent members on the Governing Council voted for the removal of the Vice-Chancellor.

“After calm had been restored in the University, the Visitor acting within his powers, set up a Presidential Visitation Panel to review the actions taken by Governing Council.

“The Vice-Chancellor (who had been removed from office) and myself were told to recuse ourselves for the duration of the Visitation Panel.

“I find it difficult to understand how a non-executive Chairman of a Governing Council could be requested to recuse himself during the visitation

“The Vice-Chancellor could only recuse himself if he were still in office. Implicit in this position is that the Vice-Chancellor was acknowledged as still being in office despite his removal.”

Babalakin faulted the terms of reference of the committee, which he claimed, were set to achieve a predetermined agenda.

He added: “The terms of reference of the Visitation Panel clearly indicated to any discerning person that the Visitation Panel was empanelled to exonerate the Vice-Chancellor and implicate the Pro-Chancellor.

Babalakin also alleged that the composition of the panel was awkward.

He said he only appeared before the Panel in protest because the panel could not determine the issues before it

He said: “The membership of the Visitation Panel is simply inappropriate in the circumstance. How can a committee of Vice-Chancellors determine the culpability or otherwise of the actions of a Pro-Chancellor and a Governing Council?”

“On the face of it, it is simply wrong. Furthermore, the Vice-Chancellors on the Panel were drawn from relatively smaller universities who are not likely to have a comprehensive understanding of the procedure contained in the University of Lagos Act (as amended).

“Even Vice-Chancellors of state universities were included. As Chairman of the Federal Government Negotiation Team, I know the challenges faced with the administration of state universities.

“I only appeared before the Panel out of my very great respect for you, Sir. My training as a lawyer revealed to me very clearly, that the Panel was inappropriate for the assignment.

“During my appearance, I made it very clear that I was appearing in protest and the Panel, as constituted, could not determine the issues before it. The active participation of the staff of the Ministry of Education in the Panel and their contributions throughout the sittings especially the hounding of witnesses who came to testify against the Vice-Chancellor was enough to show very clearly that the technocrats in the Ministry had a defined agenda.

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