Court says UNILAG’s name remains unchanged

The suit filed by some students of the University of Lagos challenging the move by President Goodluck Jonathan to change the name of the University of Lagos was stalled today following the failure of the Federal Government and other respondents to file their reply to the suit.

This development made the presiding judge, Justice Steven Adah of the Federal High Court, Lagos to restate his earlier order that all parties should maintain status quo on the matter.

Justice Adah reiterated that the order would subsist throughout the period of hearing and final determination of the suit challenging the propriety of renaming the university through a broadcast by President Jonathan on the 29th of May, 2012.

Meanwhile lawyers to the respondents, Taiwo Osipitan representing the University of Lagos and the Council of the University, Titi Akinlawon representing the Senate of the University, J. J Usman representing the Federal Government and Helen Obayagbon representing the National Assembly all pleaded for more time to file their replies.

Following no opposition to the request from the counsel to the students, Wole Olanipekun, the judge adjourned the matter till September 21, 2012 to enable all the processes to be before the court.

The judge also ordered that the suit filed separately by the alumni association and the students should be consolidated.

The National President and Secretary of the Alumni Association of the university, Olayide Abass and Femi Olatunji, respectively, on behalf of the association, instituted the suit seeking nine reliefs as those contained in the one filed by the students.

The seven students suing on behalf of the entire students of the university are, Ogunmola Olajide, Olawaye Elijah, Boatman Eniekenemi, Mathias Abraham, Asimiyu Ayodeji, Banjo Omojomi and Balogun Ismalia.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare that “the pronouncement of the President of Republic of Nigeria in his national broadcast of May 29, 2012 to the effect that ‘the University of Lagos is renamed by the Federal Government of Nigeria as Moshood Abiola University, Lagos is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever and howsoever.”

They are also seeking an order of injunction, restraining “the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by the fourth defendant (the Attorney General of the Federation) either by itself or acting through any of its agencies, organs, person or persons howsoever from renaming or changing the name of the University of Lagos with the name Moshood Abiola University pursuant to the national broadcast of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29, 2012 and/or giving effect in any manner whatsoever to the said broadcast.”

Among other orders being sought by the plaintiffs is one restraining the university and its Council from complying with the President’s broadcast and another restraining the Senate of the university from “awarding or attempting to award any Degree, certificate or Diploma of the University of Lagos in any name whatsoever (particularly Moshood Abiola University) other than the university of Lagos.”

UNILAG: Soyinka calls Jonathan’s name change a gift horse

Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka on Wednesday joined the growing opposition against the renaming of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Moshood Abiola University, Lagos by President Goodluck Jonathan.

“This is one gift horse which, contrary to traditional saying, must be inspected thoroughly in the mouth”, he said in a statement entitled “Goodluck Jonathan’s gift horse.”

“Primary from all of us must be a plea to the MKO Abiola family not to misconstrue the protests against the naming of the University of Lagos after their heroic patriarch. Issues must be separated and understood in their appropriate contexts. The family will acknowledge that, among the loudest opposing voices to Jonathan’s gift horse, are those who have clamoured tirelessly that MKO Abiola, the Nigerian nation’s president-elect, be honoured nationally, and in a befitting manner.

“Next is my confession to considerable shock that President Goodluck Jonathan did not even think it fit to consult or inform the administrators of the university, including Council and Senate, of his intention to re-name their university for any reason, however laudable. This arbitrariness, this act of disrespect, was a barely tolerated aberration of military governance. It is totally deplorable in what is supposed to be a civilian order.

“After that comes the bad-mouthing of MKO Abiola and the Nigerian electorate by President Jonathan who referred to MKO as the “presumed winner” of a historic election. While applauding the president for finally taking the bull by the horns and rendering honour unto whom honour is due, the particularities of this gesture have made it dubious, suspect, and tainted. You do not honour someone while detracting from his or her record of achievement. MKO Abiola was not a presumed winner, but the President-elect of a nation, and thus universally acknowledged.

“It is sad, very sad, that after his predecessor who, for eight full years of presidency, could not even bear to utter the name of a man who made his own incumbency possible, along comes someone who takes back with the left hand what the right has offered. However, there is hope. Legalists have claimed that there is a legal flaw to the entire process. The university, solidly backed by other tertiary institutions nation-wide, should immediately proceed to the courts of law and demand a ‘stay of execution’.

“That should give President Jonathan time to re-consider and perhaps shift his focus to the nation’s capital for institutions begging for rituals of re-naming. After all, it is on record that the House of Assembly did once resolve that the Abuja stadium be named after the man already bestowed the unique title of “Pillar of African Sports”. He deserved that, and a lot more. What he did not deserve is to be, albeit posthumously, the centre of a fully avoidable acrimony, one that has now resulted in the shutting down one of the institutions of learning to whose cause, the cause of learning, President-elect MKO Abiola also made unparalleled private contributions.

“Let me end by stressing that my position remains the same as it was when the University of Ife was re-named Obafemi Awolowo University. I deplored it at the time, deplore it till today, have never come to terms with it, and still hope that some day in the not too distant future, that crime against the culture of institutional autonomy will be rectified. Let us not compound the aberrations of the past with provocations in an era that should propel us towards a belated new Age of Enlightenment.”

FG will not reverse decision on UNILAG’s name – Minister of Information

The Federal government has announced that it will not rescind its decision of renaming the University of Lagos after the late winner of the 1993 presidential elections and business mogul, MKO Abiola.

Speaking to state house correspondents after Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku said  that what the president did was an answer to the outcry of concerned Nigerians who witnessed the events of June 12 and the subsequent demise of the man that was the acclaimed winner of the election.

The Minister called on Nigerians not to allow the protest by some students to overshadow the significance of the president’s decision to immortalize  Abiola.

Students of the University of Lagos have taken to the streets for two days consecutively after the pronouncement to protest the name change of the 50 year old institution.

UNILAG students block Third Mainland Bridge to protest change of institution’s name

The students of University of Lagos (UNILAG), in continuation of their protest over the renaming of their institution after Late M.K.O Abiola, disrupted traffic on the 3rd Mainland bridge, Lagos, this morning.

A pregnant woman and many workers on their way to work in Lagos Island were seen stranded on the bridge with the protesting students blocking some sections of the road with seized BRT buses.

The students marched from their main campus at Akoka, Yaba through Herbert Macaulay Street to the Adekunle link on the bridge, demanding the reversion to the original name of the university.

The students are also occupying areas in Alagomeji, Yaba, Sabo and the University’s main gate. Few lecturers and Alumni of the school joined the students in the protest.

The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Umar Manko, who led a team of police officers to the scene of the protest, asked the students to return to their campuses and stay calm until the government finds a solution to the problem.

President Goodluck Jonathan in his 50-minute Democracy Day address to Nigerians on Tuesday had changed the name of the institution to Moshood Abiola University, Lagos.

His announcement of the name change did not go down well with the students, who insisted that Mr Jonathan should have named another national monument after the late Abiola.

Although they said they had nothing against Abiola, who died on July 7, 1998 while fighting to validate his June 12, 1993 presidential mandate, they said UNILAG was not the most appropriate institution to be named after the late politician.

Meanwhile, the University board through its radio station said on Wednesday that it has suspended all its academic activities for the next two weeks. The board also asked all students to vacate the school premises before 11am.