By Chinelo Obogo
Former chairman of the Governing Council of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN), has alleged that the management of the institution under the leadership of the Vice Chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, diverted funds he personally donated to the Faculty of Law.
During an interview with Arise TV, he said when he was first appointed as Pro Chancellor of the school, he took a tour of all the departments and discovered that the Faculty of Law had no current law report and the Department of Creative Arts lacked facilities.
He revealed that he then begun monthly donation of N500,000 and N400,000 to the Law Faculty and Create Arts department respectively to get law reports, books and facilities to improve learning but that 20 months later, he discovered that the N500,000 monthly donations made to Faculty of Law were being diverted to a non-university account by the school’s management.
This revelation is coming after the visitation panel set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the removal of Ogundipe as VC by the governing council of the school in August 2020 submitted its report to the Ministry of Education. The 241-page report re-affirmed the decision of the governing council led by Babalakin to remove the VC and held that the laid down procedures to his removal were followed.
The visitation panel indicted Ogundipe alleging that under him, the university administration concealed the school’s account and other critical information for three years from the governing council of the university. The VC was alleged to have carried out contract splitting of N1.8 billion, diversion of funds, fraud and incompetence and concealed.
Babalakin said that the first panel that failed to indict Ogundipe was fraudulent, alleging that the events in the University of Lagos are signs of the decay that has gone on for so long.
“The events in the University of Lagos are signs of the decay that has gone on for so long. The university system in Nigeria has completely collapsed. The problem in Unilag stems from the fact that I refused to be one of the boys. President Buhari struggles to find money to fund the universities and these monies never gets used for their purpose. In Unilag, a substantial part of the money was misappropriated.
“The first panel that was set up that vindicated the VC was inappropriate because without knowing what happened, the technocrats in the ministry came to the conclusion that he did nothing wrong. The permanent secretary who is not very skilled in legal issues set up a panel which met and came to the conclusions that there were some infractions but no one saw that report. I later discovered that the chairman of the panel that vindicated the VC wrote to the ministry, disowning the panel. The first report was faulted and discredited by the chairman of the panel.
“When I was first appointed, I went to the Law faculty to ask for the law report and discovered that there was no current law report. I was so moved that I decided to give them N500, 000 monthly to use to buy law reports and I assumed they were being bought until a professor came to me 20 months down the line and told me what happened. The money I donated to the Faculty of Law was diverted into a non university account and spent at will instead of going to the TSA account.
“That was not the only donation. I went to Creative Arts and asked them what their challenge was and they said there was no money, so I promised to give them N400, 000 every month. In the law faculty, we found students hanging on window sills to listen to lectures and we have them money to prepare the auditorium. Imagine the alarm when we started looking at the accounts and we discovered that the University has misled us. The school was not short of funds, it was simply being diverted. The corruption there is endemic and cannot be unveiled by any visitation panel no matter how strong,” Babalakin said.