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Anxiety as fresh crisis erupts in UNILAG

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ASUU bars Babalakin from the council meeting
• Your action is illegal, registrar tells teachers

The internal crisis rocking the University of Lagos (UNILAG) is far from over as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is poised for a showdown with the institution’s governing council led by Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN).

It was learnt that Babalakin had fixed the council meeting for Wednesday, July 15 but the university teachers, who had a few months ago declared the pro-chancellor persona non grata over his alleged role in the postponement of the school’s convocation ceremony, had scheduled its congress for the same day.

Babalakin has been having a running battle with the university management led by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, over the award of contracts. A panel was set up by the council to look into the projects and the roles of the vice-chancellor as well as some serving and retired principal officers of the university.

It took the intervention of the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, and the National Assembly for normalcy to return.

The peace of the institution was disrupted again as Babalakin alleged that he was not informed before a date was fixed for the convocation.

The pro-chancellor petitioned the education minister and the National Universities Commission (NUC), stating his grievances, which led to the forceful postponement of the ceremony.

Apparently miffed by Babalakin’s action, ASUU passed a vote of no confidence on his leadership and declared him unwanted on the university campus.

When the notice of the council meeting was made public, ASUU warned Babalakin not to show up on campus to avoid violence. In a statement by the Chairman of the UNILAG chapter of ASUU, Dr. Dele Ashiru, the union warned Babalakin against visiting the campus for a council meeting planned to hold from Wednesday to Friday.

“The attention of our union has been drawn to a surreptitious council meeting summoned by Dr. Bolanle Olawale Babalakin.

“Our union reminds members of the university community and the general public that the vote of no confidence passed on Babalakin and his persona non grata status on account of the unfortunate cancellation of the university’s convocation ceremonies occasioned by him has not been vacated by the congress of our great union.

“Consequently, Babalakin should be advised to rethink his intention of entering UNILAG as his presence may rupture the long-cherished peace and tranquillity on our campus. Our union, therefore, respectfully calls on the minister of education and the Executive Secretary of the NUC, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, to please rein in Babalakin. He should also be held squarely responsible for any breakdown of law and order which his presence on our campus may create.”

But the university management in a statement by the Registrar and Secretary to Council, Oladejo Azeez, said the meeting, apart from being statutory, was called by the vice-chancellor.

Azeez recalled that the VC requisitioned the meeting to Babalakin on May 11, 2020, and June 26, 2020.
He noted that the time and topic by ASUU for their congress indicated alleged plans to disrupt the meeting, especially since the body had issued threats to prevent Babalakin from entering the university.

“The action is violently against the provision of section 41(1) of the 1999 constitution (as amended), which guarantees freedom of movement of Nigerians within Nigeria”.

Azeez reminded ASUU of section 4 of the Trade Union Act, which reads: “No person shall subject any other person to any form of constraint or restriction in the course of persuasion.”

According to the registrar, the UNILAG ASUU has shown that it does not adhere to the constitution of Nigeria or the Trade Union law, of which it is a part.

“As a responsible council, we will not engage ASUU on issues that are beyond its duties, powers and responsibilities under the laws of Nigeria.

“We, therefore, advice all law-abiding Nigerians to discountenance the action of the leadership of ASUU, University of Lagos branch, and go about their legitimate duties as they will be protected under the laws of the federation,” Azeez added.


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