‘Ogundipe Has Not Denied Any Wrongdoing’ – Babalakin Insists UNILAG VC Sack Was Legal

 

Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Wale Babalakin on Monday reiterated that the sack of Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe as Vice-Chancellor was legal.

He also noted that Ogundipe has not denied any of the allegations levelled against him.

Babalakin made the remarks during an appearance on Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily.

Ogundipe was sacked by the University’s Governing Council last week, but he has rejected the decision, claiming the process was not fair and did not follow due process.

READ ALSO: Union Members March With Embattled Unilag Vice-Chancellor

The University’s Senate and labour unions have also suggested the Vice-Chancellor’s removal contravened the University’s laid down procedures.

The school’s alumni association on Saturday called for the Council to rescind the sack and follow due process.

On Monday, Babalakin, who chairs the Governing Council, maintained that due process had been followed and Ogundipe had been found guilty of gross misconduct and financial misappropriation.

What Babalakin Said?

“First, let me repeat that the Council complied with due process in the removal of Professor Toyin Ogundipe.

“I’ve heard a lot of comments on all media. And these comments ignore a fundamental fact – Ogundipe has not denied any wrongdoing. He has not said that he did not spend N120 million renovating the residence of himself and two of his cronies without mentioning it to anybody. It was discovered. It was not mentioned, it was not prevented and there was no approval. That is patent illegality. And he has not denied it.

University of Lagos' Pro Chancellor, Wale Babalakin addressed the press on August 14, 2020.
Babalakin addressed the press on August 14, 2020.

 

“Ogundipe has not denied that he created something very new in the University – the concept of security votes. Or he continued it – I don’t know when it started. But he paid security votes, which is money that requires no account in the University. He has not denied it.

“Ogundipe has not denied that he forged documents, in trying to present a candidate for the Director of Works. He was Chairman of the Committee and he was told to collate results. When he collated results, the second became first, first became second, he never denied it. On the floor of the Council – and it’s in the minutes – he did not have any comments about it.

“Ogundipe has not, till today,  been able to present a proper account of the University. Three sets of people have looked at the account, none have said that the accounts represent a fair representation of the University’s financial position.

“In fact, he concealed it until two-and-a-half years after Council came in, when, a (Professor Omoleyinwa) report found out that he had concealed information and had presented what is not a budget as a budget.

“Ogundipe unilaterally sought to appoint a Professor into the University. This is the worst scandal in academia. He sent me a memo that I should approve that the Librarian becomes a professor. I am familiar with University systems. You just don’t become a Professor. You must go through the process and then it comes to the Council for confirmation.”

 

Defence Lawyers Stall Babalakin’s Trial With Applications

The Chairman of Bi-Courtney Nigeria Limited, Wale Babalakin

Trial in the suit involving the Chairman of Bi-Courtney Limited, Dr. Wale Babalakin has been stalled due to the volume of applications filed by the defendants in the suit.

This was at the High Court in Ikeja, Lagos.

The Presiding Judge, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo, adjourned the matter till February 17, to enable parties to sort out the applications for hearing.

Justice Lawal-Akapo said that though the matter was adjourned over a month ago, some of the applications filed by the defendants were only brought to his attention some moments before the court sitting.

“In a matter of this nature, it is always good to study the processes and ask pertinent questions as the matter goes along.

“What I will suggest is that counsel sits and identify all these processes and their facts, to be sure that all the processes are filed”, he said.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC had charged Dr. Babalakin, Mr. Alex Okoh and their firms with 27 counts of illegally transferring about N4.7bn on behalf of convicted former Delta State Governor, James Ibori.

The counts instituted against the accused by the EFCC included conspiracy, retention of proceeds of a criminal conduct and corruptly conferring benefits on account of public action.

Babalakin Questions Legality Of Criminal Charge Against Him

The Chairman of Bi-Courtney Limited, Dr. Wale Babalakin has challenged the legality of the criminal charge filed against him and four others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before an Ikeja High Court.

He also filed an application asking the court to dispense with, his physical presence in court pending the hearing and determination of his application challenging the charges.

Mr Babalakin is facing trial alongside one Alex Okoh, a banker and three companies, Stabilini Vision Ltd, Bi-Courtney Ltd and Renix Nigeria Ltd for fraudulently transferring 4.7 billion Naira on behalf of the convicted former governor of Delta State, James Ibori.

The EFCC alleged that Babalakin and his co-defendants fraudulently assisted Ibori to transfer huge sums of money through various parties to Erin Aviation account in Mauritius for the purchase of a Challenger Jet aircraft.

The defendants, who were however billed for a fresh arraignment before a new trial judge, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo, resisted the arraignment on the basis of their pending applications challenging the court’s jurisdiction.

The former trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo, has been moved to the Commercial Division of the High Court.

Mr Babalakin also refused to go into the dock, while his counsel, Mr. Wale Akoni, argued that he could not be docked until the determination of his pending application challenging the charge and the jurisdiction of the court.

The trial judge, Justice Lawal-Akapo, ruled in favour of Mr Babalakin and subsequently extended the same ruling to the co-defendants after an application by their counsel.

The court directed the Police and the EFCC not to re-arrest Mr Babalakin because the bail earlier granted to him by the former trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo, was still in force.

The judge also ordered the EFCC to release Mr Okoh’s international passport to enable him embark on two business trips between December 2013 and January 2014. He is to return the international passport to the EFCC not later than January 30, 2014.

Further hearing in the case has been fixed for the January 20, 2014 for the hearing of all pending applications.

Court Allows Babalakin’s Co-Defendant Travel Abroad

The Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has given permission for Mr. Alex Okoh, who faces money laundering charges with the Chairman of Bi-Courtney Highway Services, Dr. Wale Babalakin, to travel to the United Kingdom for medical reasons.

After their arraignment on the 17th of January, the court had ordered both Okoh and Babalakin to deposit their travelling documents with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC.

However, the presiding judge, Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo, last week ordered the EFCC to release Mr. Babalakin’s passports to enable him travel to South Africa for medical reasons.

In granting the application of Mr. Babalakin’s co-defendant seeking permission to travel abroad, Justice Onigbanjo asked the defence counsel, Mr. Olaniran Obele, to file evidence of Mr. Okoh’s prior medical appointment with the UK hospital where he intends to travel to on Wednesday.

The defence lawyer is also expected to file a further affidavit accompanying an e-mail he claimed was being expected from the UK hospital.

The lawyer had said his client had been to the UK hospital for his routine check-up between December 30, 2012 and January 7.

EFCC’s counsel, Mrs Taiwo Ogunleye, did not oppose Mr. Okoh’s application.

She merely urged the court to adjourn the matter to enable the defendant file the necessary documents.

Mrs. Ogunleye also told the court it was the United Kingdom that reported the case, which informed the charges, to the EFCC and as such Mr Okoh could be arrested in the UK a situation which could rob the court of its jurisdiction to further hear the charges.

Justice Onigbanjo then ordered the EFCC to release the travelling documents of the second defendant (Okoh) to him to enable him to travel to the United Kingdom between March 6 and 19, 2013 for the review of his medical condition.

N4.7bn Money Laundering: Babalakin Again Fails To Appear In Court

The arraignment of the Managing Director of Bi -Courtney Ltd; Dr Wale Babalakin by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over an alleged N4.7billion money laundering charge was again stalled on Wednesday owing to the defendant’s absence in court and his controversial illness.

Mr Babalakin (SAN) is alleged to have laundered the funds on behalf of the convicted former governor of Delta State, Mr James Ibori.

The case however took a new twist as his lawyer; Chief Ebun Sofunde (SAN) announced his withdrawal from the case.

Mr Sofunde withdrew from the money laundering charge filed by the EFCC against his client, citing personal reasons.

He however did say that if Mr Babalakin wishes to challenge his withdrawal, he may decide to tell the court the actual reason behind his withdrawal from the matter.

Presiding Judge, Justice Onigbanjo granted his request for withdrawal and another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Bolaji Ayorinde, announced his appearance for Mr Babalakin.

Chief Ayorinde told the court that he had filed an application for an adjournment of the case as Mr Babalakin is still receiving treatment at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH).

Outside the court, however, counsel to the EFCC, Mr Jacobs described the defence claims as a ploy geared at frustrating the arraignment and prosecution of Mr Babalakin.

Justice Onigbanjo adjourned the case till the 17th of January, 2013.

Meanwhile, in an another case before the Federal High Court Ikoyi involving Mr Bablakin, the presiding Judge; Justice Mohammed Idris adjourned till Thursday the 13th of December, the hearing of a preliminary objection filed by the EFCC.

The Commission is challenging the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to make an order which can affect the proceedings at the Lagos High Court Ikeja.

If the court agrees with the EFCC, the case at the Federal High Court will be struck out but if the court rules against the Commission, it will then proceed to determine the issues of the legality of the charges against Mr Babalakin and whether the EFCC can proceed against him without the fiat of the Attorney General of Lagos.