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UNILAG crisis: Stakeholders condemn presence of armed men on campus

Stakeholders on Wednesday condemned the presence of strange armed men at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) council chamber during the council’s recent emergency meeting.

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The stakeholders, in interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos appealed for the quick intervention of the Federal Government.

Tension has been heightened at the institution in recent time following queries issued to about eight management staff, including the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, and his immediate predecessor, Prof. Rahamon Bello.

The Registrar of the institution, Mr Oladejo Azeez, issued the queries on the orders of the Pro-Chancellor, Dr Wale Babalakin.

The queries were said to have bordered on misappropriation of funds and travelling without permission, among other issues.

The development was, however, condemned by the institution’s branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and some stakeholders.

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In a swift reaction, the Pro-Chancellor directed the registrar to convene an emergency two-day council meeting, inviting all concerned.

NAN reports that on the first day of the meeting held on Monday, May 13, some strange men numbering about 15, dressed in black attires, were seen at the council chamber during the meeting.

A NAN investigation revealed that due to the concern raised, the strange men were not at the council chamber on the second day of the meeting, Tuesday, May 16.

One of the university’s security officials, who pleaded anonymity, told NAN that the strange men were relocated to the Pro Chancellor’s lodge during the meeting.

The presence of the strange men caused a scare on campus.

Oluwabamise Olanipekun, President and Chairman, Council of Faculties, UNILAG, described the development as a distraction, saying that it has created tension and fear on campus, as well as the smooth running of the university’s academic activities.

He said that the presence of such strange armed men would no longer be tolerated by the students.

“With this kind method of leadership, we cannot go anywhere and we may not be able to meet the cardinal mandate of the university.

“Our vice chancellor is a man of peace; he has done very well in the short period of his administration.

“He has attracted so many profitable ventures into the university, both within the country and in the Diaspora, which many of the students have already benefited from, including my humble self.

“Apart from this, his humility and ever=ready attention to student matters, as well as his administrative style is something commendable.

“We will therefore not allow detractors to toil with his good works. We as students of this university love him and will always pledge our loyalty and support to his good course,” he said.

Olanipekun, a final year student of English Language, called on the Federal Government, to put modalities in place to check the activities of political appointees at the institution.

According to him, the students are not against any public officer being probed, but the manner at which such probe is carried out is what matters.

“There must be unity of purpose in any given organisation in order to make meaningful progress,” he said.

An alumnus of the institution, Mr Adebanjo Moyosore, also condemned the incident, noting that it was “a bad omen’’.

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Moyosore said that the university’s image had been “dented’’ and therefore urged the Federal Government to take a decisive step to resolve the issue.

“This is unacceptable, given that the university had enjoyed unparalleled peace and mutual co-existence, in recent times.

“What has been happening in this institution which we have been guarding jealously has been dented within the public domain, courtesy of some persons who want to take laws in their hands

“Yes, any situation that appears erring should be probed but in doing so, we should also be mindful to ensure that due process is followed,” he said.

In his reaction, the Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), UNILAG Chapter, Dr Dele Ashiru, condemned the presence of the armed men on campus.

“This whole thing is coming to us as a surprise. That the pro-chancellor can carry out such a siege on an institution of this pedigree, leaves a lot to be desired.

“We are watching keenly to see how this whole thing plays out. We condemn this in absolute terms,” he said. (NAN)