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BREAKING: Babalakin Resigns As UNILAG Pro-Chancellor

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The Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Dr. Wale Babalakin(SAN), has resigned following an alleged disagreement with the Federal Government on the Visitation Panel sent to the university.

He said there were too many vested interests in UNILAG matter, who were not approaching the issues objectively.

But he said it has come to a stage he must stand by his principles since the Federal Government believed the actions he took may not be right.

He said the visitation panel was raised to exonerate the Vice-Chancellor and implicate the Pro-Chancellor.

He said although he appeared in protest before the panel, he made it clear that the panel could not determine the issues before it.

He said he will also not be available again to serve as the chairman of the Federal Government Negotiation Team on the Agreement reached with university unions in 2009.

He has been the chairman of the negotiating team since January 6th, 2017.

He said he had served the university system in Nigeria with his heart and intellect.

He said as Pro-Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri and the University of Lagos, he did not receive sitting allowances and other perks of office.

He said he did not allow the two institutions to provide him with food or drinks.

He said he paid for every right or privilege that was conferred on me.

Babalakin’s letter of resignation to the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu was dated September 15, 2020, but it was made public barely a few hours after the submission of the report of the Visitation Panel.

The same letter was copied by President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the Visitor to the university.

The letter reads 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 to 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.

“I led the Governing Council of the University to remove the Vice-Chancellor of the University from office for amongst 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 impaneled to exonerate the Vice-Chancellor and implicate the Pro-Chancellor. “For easy reference, the terms of reference of the Visitation Panel are:

· To review the report of the Council sub-committee on review of expenditure of the University of Lagos since May 2017 and make appropriate recommendations after affording all those indicted an opportunity to defend themselves;

· To examine the steps taken by the Council leading to the removal of the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, and ascertain whether due process was followed as stipulated in the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment) Act, 2003, and the principle of fair hearing adhered to;

· To determine whether the process (if any) leading to the appointment of the acting Vice Chancellor for the University was consistent with the provisions of the enabling Act;

· To make appropriate recommendations including sanctions for all those found culpable by the special visitation team on the allegations contained in the report as well as other subsequent actions arising therefrom; and

· To make any other recommendations that will assist the government to take decisions that will ensure peaceful, stable, and effective administration of the University.

“As stated earlier, the Vice-Chancellor was removed for various reasons and not just as a result of the findings contained in the Dagari Report. Items (b) and (c) were directed at the Pro-Chancellor and Governing Council.

“Unfortunately, those items deal with the interpretation of the laws of the land. The appropriate forum to determine the laws of the land is a court of law or a judicial tribunal. It cannot be determined by academics of a different discipline no matter how distinguished. These terms of reference are ultra-vires the Visitation Panel as constituted.”

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.

“Their obvious agenda was to humiliate the Governing Council. Sir, fortunately, there is a verbatim recording of the proceedings of the Visitation Panel, and you may wish to direct objective persons to listen to the recording.

“I am particularly relieved by the comment of the Chancellor of the University, His Royal Highness, Alhaji (Dr) Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai Al Amin El-Kanemi CFR on the situation in the University. In a letter dated 15th September 2020 and addressed to your good self (which I was copied), His Royal Highness stated thus:

“I have discovered that there are too many vested interests in this matter, who are not approaching the issues objectively. For this reason, I strongly advise that the Visitation Panel should not submit any formal report to the Minister that may hinder my ability to deal with the issues comprehensively”

“I have served the university system in Nigeria with my heart and intellect. Amongst other offices, I was:

  •  Pro-Chancellor, University of Maiduguri (2009 – 2013);
  • Chairman, Council of Pro-Chancellors of all Federal Universities (2009 – 2013);
  • Chairman, Federal Government Implementation Team of the 2009 Agreement (2009 – 2013);
  • Chairman, Federal Government Negotiation Team of the 2009 Agreement (2017 till date);\
  • Pro-Chancellor, University of Lagos (2017 to date).

“These were made possible by a system that provided resources and also ensured proper monitoring of the resources.

“The educational system in Nigeria requires more funding but most importantly, it requires prudent management of the limited resources.

“It was my determination to ensure that the limited resources of the University of Lagos were properly utilized that motivated me to lead the Governing Council to take the decisions which the Governing Council took.”

Babalakin said he had served the university system in Nigeria with my heart and intellect.

“In all these positions that I have held, I did not receive any remuneration. Specifically:

“I did not receive any sitting allowance. I did not receive any tickets or travel allowance.

I did not receive or use any official car.

In the University of Maiduguri and the University of Lagos, I did not allow the institutions to provide me with food or drinks. I paid for every right or privilege that was conferred on me.

“Even when I traveled to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, I paid for my ticket and my expenses.

“I did not obtain any contract from the education sector in my relative long sojourn in the sector.

“My motivation for my actions is that I had the best education that intellect could provide in Nigeria and abroad. It is my fervent desire that every Nigerian should have the sort of opportunities I had.

“I remain very grateful to all the members of the Federal Government team on the Governing Council of the University of Lagos, namely: Alhaji Ali Hussein; Rev. Yomi Kasali; Dr. Bayo Adaralegbe; and Dr. Saminu Dagari.

“It would be very difficult to find a group of more selfless persons than these individuals. It is acutely hurtful that I am leaving before achieving our goal of sanitizing the University of Lagos and turning it to a reference point in Africa and the world, rather than the unenviable poor position it now occupies.

“Unfortunately, I must stand by principle. In a situation where my employers believe that the actions I took may not be right, the appropriate thing to do is bow out in honour. Sir, may the Almighty Allah continue to bless you.

BIG STORY

Nigerian Govt Announces Committee To Address Job Creation, National Security As Nationwide Rampage Continues

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The National Executive Council (NEC) has set up a committee charged with addressing unemployment and national security in the country.

This was part of the council’s resolutions at its meeting on Monday, vice-president Yemi Osinbajo’s publicist, Laolu Akande, said in a mail sent to media houses Tuesday.

The decision was taken on the backdrop of issues triggered by the weeks-long #EndSARS protests where young Nigerians sought an end to police brutality before it was hijacked by hoodlums who have caused chaos across the country in the past week.

Headed by the vice-president, the committee has the governors of Sokoto, Borno State, Niger, Ondo, Ebonyi, Delta States as members.

The committee, Mr. Akande said, is expected to engage “relevant stakeholders” to chart a way forward on “employment, social safety net programmes, and national unity among other key issues of concern” for the country.

This, he said will be done alongside engaging with security agencies, including at the state level, “to provide compensation for those who have incurred losses in the last few weeks and a framework for social security to deal with the problem of unemployment and poverty in the country.”

Four in 10 Nigerians are poor and the country’s unemployment rate rose to 27.1% in the second quarter of 2020, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

“The council observed the low morale of security operatives during the period and members resolved to commend the Nigeria police and all the security agencies for their handling of what is clearly an unprecedented problem,” Mr Akande said in his statement.

“NEC also supported President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to a complete overhaul of the country’s security services by improving the capacity of security officers across the rank and file while providing them with the necessary equipment to carry out their jobs effectively,” he added.

Since the protest for police reform turned violent last week, the has country has experienced series of destruction, large-scale looting of public and private warehouses, and loss of lives, including those of security officials.

To this end, Mr Akande said NEC urged the CACOVID leadership, a private initiative committed to given palliatives to Nigerians to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, “to come out with an independent statement on the status of the distribution of palliatives donated to States which should clearly explain the circumstances behind the delay in the distribution of food items domiciled in warehouses across the country.”

“Council reviewed the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and other secessionist groups, stressing that these subterranean and violent tendencies must be quickly addressed given that they have continually hijacked demonstrations and caused mayhem and lawlessness across parts of the country.

“Council decried the irresponsible use of social media in fueling misinformation and increasing social tensions,” Mr Akande noted.

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BIG STORY

BREAKING: Sanwo-Olu Approves Full Reopening Of Markets In Lagos

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The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has approved the full reopening of markets in the state.

The Lagos Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Dr Wale Ahmed, made this known in a statement on Tuesday.

The statement made available by the governor’s Senior Special Assistant on New Media, Gawat Jubril, noted that both food markets and non-food markets can reopen every day of the week.

Before the announcement, food and non-food markets were allowed to operate three days in a week – Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

The state government had regulated the opening of the markets to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

The statement read in part, “The Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has approved the full resumption of operations of both food markets and non-food markets.

“They are now to open daily.

“Mr Governor took the decision to further enhance trade and commerce and mitigate the hardship of recent times and ensure that Lagosians can recover fast.

“Mr Governor also advised the continued observance of all safety protocols.

“Traders and their customers must adhere strictly to the covid 19 protocols for their safety and the citizenry at large.”

Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, on Monday, announced that the country recorded 119 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections in Nigeria to 62,111.

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BIG STORY

520 Suspects Arrested For Arson, Vandalism, Others In Lagos

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The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, on Tuesday, said 520 suspects have been arrested in connection with the series of arson, vandalism, burglary, and robbing of unsuspecting members of the public of their valuables during the unrest occasioned by the #EndSARS protest in the state.

Odumosu, who disclosed this during a press briefing at the command headquarters in the Ikeja area of the state, said the #EndSARS protest was hijacked by hoodlums, adding that the arrested suspects would be charged to court.

While stating the facilities affected in the state, the CP said, “A lot of public and private facilities were set ablaze, our police stations were also burnt and vandalized.

“Based on the incidences, the command swung into action realizing that this is no more #EndSARS, where lives and property are lost and vandalized and burnt. We realized that the protest had been hijacked by hoodlums, so we moved in and we were able to recover some of the stolen items and arrested the perpetrators.

“So far, 520 suspects have been arrested for various offenses, ranging from arson, robbery, murder, rioting, malicious damage, and unlawful possession of firearms. All the suspects we have arrested are not #EndSARS protesters and they will all be charged.”

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