EXCLUSIVE: Inside audit report that indicted UNILAG VC, DVCs, bursar, others

University of Lagos (UNILAG). [Photo credit: Students Nigeria]
University of Lagos (UNILAG). [Photo credit: Students Nigeria]

Ahead of the special meeting of the Governing Council of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, scheduled to hold on Monday and Tuesday, PREMIUM TIMES has obtained extracts from the report of the council’s sub-committee on the review of the institution’s expenditure.

The report has indicted the vice-chancellor, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, and two of his three deputies- Folashade Ogunsola and Oluwole Familoni.

Also indicted are the university’s former vice-chancellor, Rahamon Bello; former registrar, Taiwo Ipaye; immediate past bursar and his successor, Lateef Odekunle and Lekan Lawal respectively; former deputy vice-chancellor, Duro Oni; former directors of works, Niyi Ayeye and Adelere Adeniran; head of procurement unit, James Akanmu; dean of students’ affairs, Ademola Adeleke; director of academic planning, L.O Chukwu, and the director of foundation programme, Timothy Nubi.

But the committee absolved two important members of the university’s current management – a deputy vice-chancellor, Ben Oghojafor, and the registrar, Oladejo Azeez, of any wrongdoing.

Perhaps coincidentally, Mr Azeez is a member of the audit committee.

Ahead of the formal presentation of the report, the registrar, on the instruction of the governing council chairman, Wale Babalakin, had queried all the indicted university officials. The vice-chancellor received three separate queries.

Audit Findings

The nine-member sub-committee of the council led by a lecturer of Chemistry at Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Saminu Dagari, which audited the university’s expenditure between May 2017 and September 2018, said the institution’s “current regime of approval is open to serious abuses.”

“There was consistent, brazen, manifest and gross mismanagement of university finances by past and current management,” the report said in part.

The report added that the current regime of approval has been characterised by contract award without recourse to due process, payment without valid contracts and approvals, contract overpayment, contract splitting by vice-chancellors and tenders board, over-budgetary spending, frequent official travels, and expenditure without due approval by the governing council.

The report also accused the university’s internal audit units of gross lapses, dismal failure, and abuse of the institution’s internal control mechanisms.

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In the case of frequent travels, the report accused the university management of spending multimillion naira on travels, sometimes without approvals. The vice-chancellor is reportedly guiltier in this respect. His two deputy vice-chancellors are also accused of this.

Other members of the committee that produced the report are Yomi Kasali, Oladejo Azeez, Dora Osoata, Adepeju Adefowope, Adebayo Olaleye, Adeoluwa Folami, Daniel Asigwuike, and Gbenga Adefarakan.

Committee’s recommendations

To curb what it described as excesses of the approving authorities for finances in the university, the committee recommended a monthly or quarterly approval limit for all approving authorities; reorganisation of expenditure control and internal audit units, and that process of revenue and expenditure should be automated for transparency.

The report also urged the council to take appropriate sanctions against all those indicted of financial mismanagement.

“Current contractors engaged in janitorial and maintenance services should be paid all their outstanding monies and subsequently disengaged. This is because they are beneficiaries of management wanton and consistent abuse and violation of financial regulations such as absence of tenders board or council approval, absence of evidence of renewal of valid contracts, manifest overpayment and contract splitting,” the report said.

Also, against the advice of the Bureau of Public Procurement, which said the university’s tenders board, based on the Procurement Act, is placed under the chairmanship of the vice-chancellor, the committee said the university’s Act supercedes the Procurement Act.

It, therefore, recommended that the governing council should take total control of the university’s finances and that the chairman of the governing council should chair the tenders board from now on.

Stormy session awaited

Meanwhile, strong indications have emerged that if the special session holds as planned, it may be very stormy.

PREMIUM TIMES is aware of efforts by some council members to seek postponement of the meeting. They accused the council chair of premeditated plan to achieve a ‘sinister agenda.’

The registrar had on Thursday evening issued a notice of an emergency meeting to the 17 members of the council.

According to the notice, Mr Azeez said he was acting on the instruction of the council chairman to convene the meeting. However, apparently noting that the conditions required for an emergency council meeting had not been met, the registrar issued another notice few hours after, and changed the meeting from ‘emergency’ to a ‘special meeting.’

On the agenda of the meeting is for members to officially receive and discuss the Dagari-led committee report, to discuss the report of a panel set up to investigate the circumstances surrounding the collapse of the institution’s library under construction, to discuss the pro-chancellor’s actions taken on the audit report, and to consider the recommendations of the two reports.

But those seeking postponement of the meeting have argued that the report of the audit committee to be debated was just sent to them by 5 p.m. on Friday and that the accompanying evidences were not attached as required.

“We were asked to go to the registrar’s office to peruse the attachments. So, how do we do that when the registrar will not sleep in his office? Will the office be opened on Saturday or Sunday? Even if it will be opened, is that the ideal way of doing things? This is a report that has been with the chairman for weeks, and which he has even acted upon,” a member said.

‘Doctored’ minute

Some members of the council have also accused the registrar of doctoring the minute of the governing council meeting held in March. They claimed that some clauses which were never discussed have been inserted into the minute to justify the action of the council chair, especially on the queries issued to the indicted individuals.

“For instance, there was nowhere we discussed that the council chair should act on the report without first presenting the report to the council. That has been inserted, and members won’t take such a case of forgery lightly,” a council member told PREMIUM TIMES.

The members also accused the audit committee of incompetence, bias and vindictiveness.

According to them, the registrar is a member of the audit committee and he would not be expected to have indicted himself.

Meanwhile, some lecturers in the university have told PREMIUM TIMES that the committee’s decision not to indict the third deputy vice-chancellor, Mr Oghojarfor, was to “make him the acting vice-chancellor when Ogundipe is suspended.”

“There is a reason for this claim. In the queries issued to the two other deputy vice-chancellors, they were accused of frequent travels and with approval above the limit of the vice-chancellor. But Oghojafor has also travelled in a similar circumstance. He was in China and was also in the US recently. So how come, he wasn’t issued query? It is a game plan my brother,” a lecturer, who does not want to be named, said.

The source added that Mr Oghojafor was the chairman of the sub-committee that reviewed the composition of the tenders board and wrote to the BPP.

“So, he has been doing the bidding of the council chair, and he needed to be rewarded,” he said.

Committee’s Expenditure Questioned

Some governing council members have also questioned the expenditure of more than N7 million by the audit committee, set up in September 2018.

According to documents obtained by our newspaper, the chairman of the committee spent N3,811,481 on accommodation and feeding during the course of the committee’s work, while about N1.24 million was paid to him as sitting allowance.

Documents also reveal that other members of the committee shared a total of N2,790,000 on sitting allowances while Mr Kasali received another N40,000 as transportation allowance. There was also the second tranche of N600,000 paid to the committee members.

Meanwhile, efforts to get the reaction of the committee chairman, Mr Dagari, were unsuccessful as his mobile telephone numbers were not reachable and text messages sent were not replied. Also, messages sent to his WhatsApp were delivered but not read since Friday, May 10.

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