A former Governing Council Member of the University of Lagos (Unilag), Prof. Boniface Oye-Adeniran, yesterday called for the prosecution of the current Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe and other members of the management that were alleged to have breached the procurement law.
The retired professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, who spoke on Arise News Channel, THISDAY’s broadcast arm, was reacting to the indictment of the Unilag VC by a visitation panel set up by the Visitor to the school, President Muhammed Buhari.
The panel chaired by Gen. Martin-Luther Agwai (rtd) was set up by Buhari earlier in the year to evaluate the financial management systems and overall condition of teaching, research and community service in the university, among several others in the country.
Other members of the visitation panel assigned to the University of Lagos were: Femi Agunbiade, John Alufohai, Mallam Abubakar Maikafi, Mrs. Ogochukwu Onuorah, Umar Yahaya and its Secretary, Mr. Ashafa Ladan .
Before the fact-finding body was established to examine the affairs of the university and issues that led to the crisis between Ogundipe and then Dr. Wale Babalakin-led governing council, there had been a fierce disagreement between the then governing council of the institution and the management.
But Oye-Adeniran stated that he was not surprised by the conclusion of the special visitation panel which indicted the VC, saying that he was glad that his position that the institution under Ogundipe, is a cesspool of mismanagement has now been confirmed.
He argued that the first panel was made up of professors and former vice chancellors, who would not indict one of their own because whatever decision they took would have affected their own futures.
“Whatever they come out with might also affect their own future. They might have done the same thing in their various universities in their capacities as vice chancellors. So I was not surprised with the first panel, and I spoke out about it.
“The Chairman of the panel, Prof. Tukur Sa’ad disagreed with the main report and confirmed that what was going on in the University of Lagos was corruption, and that the vice chancellor was virtually converting the institutional funds to his Automated Teller Machine (ATM).
“The present report shows that the council, then led by Babalakin monitored events in the university, rightly set up a disciplinary panel and rightly came to the conclusion that the vice chancellor should go,” he maintained.
He insisted that the statement by Ogundipe at the time that he was not given fair hearing was not true.
He argued that the VC had no answers to the allegations, including splitting of contracts, renovation of official quarters of principal officers of the university to the tune of N114 million, when his approval limit was N2.5 million and spending N49 million for renovating his own quarters as well as N2 million for furniture.
While calling for the trial of all those affected by the indictment, the former council member alleged the VC must resign immediately to preserve the sanctity of the university system.
“If the vice chancellor is asked to leave, by the time he leaves, he will have totally destroyed the University of Lagos. To send a signal to other public officers, those who breach the procurement law should be tried, they should have their days in court.
“The punishment should be dismissal, five years imprisonment without option of fine and asset forfeiture. If they have their days in court, others will think twice before stealing public fund,” he argued.
He maintained that the problem with dismissal or termination alone is that another council could come and pardon those indicted, arguing that besides council’s disciplinary action, they should be sent to the court of law to defend themselves.
Oye-Adeniran described the latest report as overwhelmingly detailed, alleging that there had been an endemic looting of the university by principal officers who did not think that a visitation panel would discover all the illegal practices.
“I think the panel headed by Gen. Martin-Luther Agwai has done a good job, and I commend them. They are a men of integrity and they have done the country proud
“I commend President Muhammadu Buhari for setting up the panel. The panel was fair, because everybody that wanted to see the panel was allowed to see the panel, and they listened attentively.
“They were fair in their questioning, and they were not hostile to anybody that appeared before them, unlike the former special visitation panel that was hostile to anybody that was coming there to say anything against the vice chancellor. I think if this is replicated in other quarters, we might then be dealing with the issue of corruption,” he said.
- Credit : THISDAY