Presidential panel report details fraud allegations against UNILAG VC, Ogundipe

On August 12, 2020, the media reveled in stories of the sudden dismissal of Oluwatoyin Ogundipe as deputy foreign minister of the university of lakes (UNILAG). Before that, the university’s governing council headed by Wale Babalakin, a prominent Supporter of Nigeria (SAN), had investigated Ogundipe for various allegations of corruption, including embezzlement and irregular recruitment. Between 2018 and 2019, the UNILAG governing council formed a panel headed by Saminu Dagari, a representative of the federal government, and Eddy Omolehinwa, an accounting professor, to analyze the finances, expenses and budgets of the institution. It relied on the panel’s damning report that the governing council removed Mr. Ogundipe. Dissatisfied with the dismissal of the Vice Chancellor, President Muhammadu Buhari set up a panel led by Tukur Sa’ad, former vice-chancellor of the Federal University of Technology in Minna, Niger state, to discuss the crisis. But in a letter to Education Minister Adamu Adamu in October 2020, Sa’ad noted that his panel was limited to verifying whether Ogundipe’s dismissal followed due process. Minister-of-Education-Adamu-Adamu “The recommendation that he rejoin the VC was limited to the procedure of his dismissal,” Sa’ad said in the letter. “That did not mean that he should be acquitted of all crimes. If among the faults listed in the report the government believes that he should be fired, that does not contradict our recommendations”. President Buhari would later reinstate Ogundipe without investigating the accusations against him. Babalakin, who headed the governing council that removed Ogundipe, resigned in protest. But a few months after presenting the panel report he chaired, Sa’ad criticized Buhari’s reinstatement of Ogundipe. He said that he reluctantly supported the panel’s report because committee members seemed to be biased toward Mr. Ogundipe against Mr. Babalakin. The new presidential panel report On March 29, 2021, the federal government constituted another panel of presidential visits, headed by Martins Agwai, former chief of the Army General Staff, to examine the management of UNILAG between 2015 and 2019, including the controversial removal of Mr. Ogundipe as deputy foreign minister. . After several months of painstaking investigation, the panel led by Agwai submitted its report to the Ministry of Education, but so far the federal government has not made the committee’s findings public. In September 2021, some newspapers leaked a portion of the panel’s report accusing Mr. Ogundipe of running a multi-million dollar procurement fraud and splitting contracts. But Sonny Echono, the then permanent secretary at the Ministry of Education, denied the authenticity of the reports, claiming they were false. However, some panel members told PREMIUM TIMES that the leaked report was genuine. University of Lagos, UNILAG Since it was partially leaked last year, the Ministry of Education has kept the original copy of the report led by Agwai and ignored the freedom of information (FOI) request filed by this newspaper. Against all odds, PREMIUM TIMES obtained a copy of the document that the federal government refused to make public. However, our reporting, including reviewing the Agwai-led panel report that the government wants unpublished and speaking to experts at UNILAG and the education ministry, showed that the Buhari-led administration is deliberately concealing the panel’s findings. to the masses. Frivolous contract awards PREMIUM TIMES concluded that the Agwai panel’s report endorsed the actions taken against Mr. Ogundipe in 2020 by the institution’s governing council led by Wale Babalakin, but President Buhari would ignore the recommendation of the panel he had constituted. After reviewing various committee reports and petitions accusing the vice-chancellor of corporate malfeasance, the presidential panel declared that “Mr. Ogundipe and his management conducted an opaque administration that hid the finances of the university from the governing council and the vested body. by law to be the custodian of those finances.” The panel also established that Mr. Ogundipe and his team engaged in various contract splitting acts in the acquisition of goods and services for the university. For example, Mr. Dagari, chairman of the committee formed by the university council in 2018 to review university spending, appeared before the panel headed by Agwai to present the report that led to Mr. Ogundipe’s initial dismissal. The Dagari-led committee accused Mr. Ogundipe of spending, without due process, N112.4 million on the renovation of his official residence and the homes of the treasurer, Olalekan Lawal, and the registrar, Oladejo Azeez. The committee found that Mr. Ogundipe purchased two official vehicles for N52 million, spending well above the university’s tender board limit. It was also said that he spent 57.9 million naira in estacodes for trips abroad. Under the supervision of the vice-chancellor, the university paid the sum of N2.4 million monthly to Ademola Adeleke, dean of student affairs, for 17 months. Ogundipe paid Adeleke from May 2017 to September 2018 for an unspecified purpose, the Dagari-led panel said. He was also accused of spending N57.2 million on waste management and cleaning services. “Prof. Ogundipe’s defense was carefully studied. He did not deny any of these allegations, and there does not appear to be a valid justification in law for all of his defenses,” the Agwai panel report said in parts. Multi-million dollar fraud, contract division Corroborating, the former acting director of works at the university, Tunde Oloko, filed a report before the presidential panel accusing Mr. Ogundipe of paying over N2 billion to contractors in excess of his approval limit and without the knowledge of the board of directors. government. “Engineer Oloko alleged that the vice chancellor was directly involved in the division of the contract and frequently had him sign payments where there was no execution or the execution was not completed,” the report says. “These allegations are contrary to the Public Procurement Law and the Fiscal Responsibility Law.” Another member of the panel established by the governing council, Eddy Omolehinwa, reported Mr. Ogundipe’s misconduct as UNILAG deputy foreign minister while presenting his report to the Agwai-led committee. Omolehinwa said that under Ogundipe, UNILAG management budgeted 147 million naira for all departments in the institution, while double that amount, a suspected 300 million naira, was budgeted for cleaning services during the same period. “This directly violates Section 7 of the University Act which gives the finances of the University to the Council,” the panel noted. Favoritism and abuse of office Relying on the testimony of another committee member of the university’s governing council, Bayo Adaralegbe, the Agwai-led panel accused Mr. Ogundipe of falsifying an interview process to favor a candidate during the selection process for the post of director of works at the university. Adaralegbe also accused Ogundipe of trying to get Olukemi Fadehan, the university’s librarian, appointed professor at a time when the institution did not have an academic department of library science. Mr. Adaralegbe presented the minutes of the council meeting where the interview process was canceled because the score sheets were altered to support his allegations, according to the panel report. “He said this happened in the presence of Professor Ben Ogbujiafor, then deputy vice-chancellor of the university, Dr. Saminu Dagari, then a member of the Council, and two representatives of the Federal Character Commission,” the panel report stated. “Dr. Adaralegbe alleged that Professor Ogundipe tried to get the librarian, Dr. (Ms.) Olukemi Fadehan, to be appointed professor librarian at the University of Lagos at a time when the university did not have a department of library science and was not admit undergraduate or graduate students for Library Science,” the report added. ‘VC Ogundipe made the registrar redundant’ On several occasions, Mr. Ogundipe breached contracting procedures through some members of the university’s bid board who approved the projects he nominated without due scrutiny. The university’s registrar, Oladejo Azeez, for example, admitted to the Agwai-led panel that most of the members of the tender board were loyalists and stooges of Ogundipe. ALSO READ: Why I acted as I did during the UNILAG crisis – VC Ogundipe Mr. Azeez admitted to issuing award letters for projects based on the deputy chancellor’s memorandum without seeing or examining the projects’ legal and contractual documents that led to the award of the contracts, according to the report. The Panel also found that the registrar’s office had been “weakened and undermined” with the removal of some units below the office. The report listed the 14 units that were eliminated from the registrar’s office, including Information and Public Relations, Admissions, Student Records, Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, Senate and Ceremonies, Legal Services, and Procurement. “The registrar lacks custody and control of important confidential and sensitive university documents,” the report stated. Again, the Ministry of Education denies Ogundipe’s accusation Despite PREMIUM TIMES’ exclusive access to the original copy of the presidential panel’s report, Ben Goong, director of press and public relations at the Ministry of Education, denied that the Agwau-led committee found Mr. Ogundipe guilty of wrongdoing. However, he did not submit a copy of that report. When contacted for comment on the allegations against him, Mr. Ogundipe refused to respond to multiple phone calls made to his line. He also ignored text messages requesting his reaction to the findings in this story. Qosim Suleiman is a reporter for Premium Times in partnership with report to the worldthat unites local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on hidden topics around the world. Read More Related News Here Let here it in the comment below if you do have an opinion on this; Presidential panel report details fraud allegations against UNILAG VC, Ogundipe