The embattled pro-chancellor and the former vice-chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, Wale Babalakin and Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, were among the invitees who have appeared before the visitation panel set up by the Federal Government to unravel the immediate and remote causes of the crisis rocking the institution.
Mr Babalakin, who was sighted within the vicinity of the governing council chamber at about 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, was visiting the campus for the first time since March when he was controversially declared persona non grata by the institution’s chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Mr Ogundipe, who had earlier submitted a memorandum to the panel, also appeared on Monday to answer questions relevant to the panel’s enquiries.
Both Messrs Babalakin and Ogundipe had earlier been ordered by the FG to recuse themselves from official responsibilities pending the conclusion of the task before the seven-member panel, which is chaired by a former vice-chancellor, Federal University of Technology (FUT), Minna, Niger State, Sa’ad Tukur.
Mr Babalakin, however, declined comment when approached by journalists shortly after he left the council chamber, venue of the sitting.
Meanwhile, other principal officers of the university who have appeared before the panel at different times between Monday and Thursday include the acting vice-chancellor, Folashade Ogunsola; two other deputy vice-chancellors, Ben Oghojafor and Oluwole Familoni.
Others include both the university’s incumbent registrar, Oladejo Azeez, and one of his predecessors and an internal member of the governing council representing the congregation, Oluworimi Shodimu.
Another external member of the council, Bayo Adaralegbe, was also fielding questions from the panel as of 1:50 p.m. on Thursday.
Mr Adaralegbe, who was reportedly invited by the panel based on a memorandum submitted, is an expert in energy and extractive industry litigation and dispute resolution and partner in Babalakin and Company – a law firm founded by Mr Babalakin.
PREMIUM TIMES is also aware that the representatives of the staff unions on the campus including ASUU, Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), Senior Staff Association of Universities (SSANU), are billed to appear before the committee on Thursday afternoon.
It is, however, not clear if other parties who submitted memoranda would be invited by the panel as the panel has till Wednesday, September 9, to submit its findings and recommendations to the visitor, President Muhammadu Buhari, through the minister of education, Adamu Adamu.
Reliable sources among the council members and members of the senate of the university confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday that they were yet to receive an invitation from the panel.
According to an external member of the council, who did not want to be named, Mr Babalakin had told him on Tuesday that he would be appearing before the panel on Thursday, “but since I was not invited I don’t see any reason I should be there.”
“However, if I get to the office today and I see their invitation, I may attend. But I am also aware that another external council member who is currently in Kaduna did not also get an invitation and would not be appearing,” the source added.
But other interested parties including members of the senate, who claimed to have submitted memoranda but have not been invited to defend their positions, have suggested that the panel “should be gracious enough to allow them to present their observations physically.”
“For instance, the Senate of the university presented a memorandum which was signed by about six members including the former dean of the faculty of Law, Prof. Chioma Agomo; former President of Nigerian Medical Association, Prof. Oluwole Atoyebi; former Dean of Postgraduate School, Prof. Lucian Chukwu, among others, have not been asked to appear before the panel. But we hope they will be invited,” a source among the senate members told our reporter.
Meanwhile, a notice of invitation to invitees by the panel which was signed by the secretary, Grace Ekanem, and dated August 27, only listed Mr. Babalakin, Ogundipe, Azeez, deputy vice-chancellors, dean of students’ affairs, internal auditor, chief security officer, directors of works, physical planning, university’s bursar, and the chairman of the governing council’s audit ad hoc committee, Saminu Dagari, among a few others.
The notice, a copy of which PREMIUM TIMES obtained, neither listed the university’s senate nor the staff unions.