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Reasons LASUCOM Provost was suspended

Gabriel Dike

Details of why the management of Lagos State University (LASU) interdicted the Provost, Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM), Prof Babatunde Solagberu has emerged.

Solagberu who had less than three months before the end of his tenure was interdicted by the Vice Chancellor, Prof Lanre Fagbohun in November 2017. The decision generated ripples among the university staff and in a swift reaction, the management withdrew the earlier circular but the decision still stood with the appointment of an acting provost.

The Education Report found that the faceoff between the provost and VC had brewed for a long time. Prof Solagberu backed by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) defeated the candidate of the VC when the election into the office took place three years ago and since then there has been no love lost between the two.

While in the office, Solagberu has been issued more than five queries by the VC and some of his decisions upturned by the university management. Despite the Lagos State Auditor General Office and external auditors of LASU auditing the account of LASUCOM, the university sent forensic auditors from the Ojo campus to look at the college financial books.

The last act that made the management to move against Solagberu was his insistence that the VC must take the cases of a principal officer of the university (Librarian) and two lecturers indicted by panel to the Governing Council to invoke disciplinary committee to commence investigations against them.

Solagberu in a memo to the VC dated October 17, 2017 and titled: ‘’Re-persistent violation of rules and regulations of the university and disregard of constituted authority’’, he stated “the provost knows for a fact that serious issues had been placed before the VC which the VC had not responded to till date to any of them.”

A major one that may have led to his interdiction is an allegation of bribery and corruption of a bursary staff allegedly by the university Librarian acting for the management to pay an initial N10,000 out of promised N25,000 if the junior staff can get incriminating documents against the provost.

The provost had earlier in another letter dated September 15, 2017 and titled: “Report of a case of bribery and corruption against a principal officer of the university”, which was ignored by the VC.

In the memo, he said: “The university librarian, Dr. Adebambo Oduwale on or about August 2017, offered to pay a bribe of N25,000 as corrupt inducement of one of our staff in LASUCOM to obtain documents in the bursary department and promised this staff an initial payment of N10,000. He also promised enhanced employment through an impending advertisement from LASU, Ojo.

On the case against the Librarian, the provost backed his claim with proof of initial payment of N10,000 to the account of the junior staff who was hired to supply the incriminating documents against him and also audio recordings of the conversation between the librarian and the bursary staff.

In response to a query dated October 17, 2017 and titled: “Re-persistent violation of rules and regulations of the university and disregard to constituted authority”, Prof Solagberu stated ‘’the provost knows for a fact that serious issues had been placed before the VC which the VC had not responded to till date to any of them.”

He drew the attention of the VC to two cases of misconduct involving two lecturers in the Department of Surgery and Department of Paediatric which the management alleged the VC is trying to sweep under the carpet.

According to him, the suspended provost alleged that the Surgery lecturer had been found guilty of misconduct for certain offence and also found to return money to obliterate evidence of engaging in two jobs at the same time which the VC is suppressing by obstruction justice. He said the case was reported on March 31 and reminder on September 15.

The Education Report learnt that before the LASU forensic audit, the Lagos State Auditor General and the LASU external auditors had in 2016 looked into the financial books of LASUCOM and gave it a clean bill, therefore the provost and staff saw the latest move as an attempt to witch-hunt him.

The LASU audit report came up with 22 items and out of which the university management queried Prof Solagberu on ten, especially the case of one lecturer who sought financial help of N1.5m from the college to enable him seek medical treatment abroad.

On compassionate grounds, the provost approved N750,000 from the college welfare fund. A former provost had earlier approved N400, 000. The VC, Prof Fagbohun queried it and stated that the provost does not have powers to approve that amount from the college purse.

It was learnt that the interdicted provost met the Governing council chairman, Prof Ninalowo Adebayo on the issues he raised but he dismissed it.

Governing council chairman, Prof Adebayo and VC, Prof Fagbohun did not respond to text messages sent to them on the allegation of bribery and corruption as well as misconduct against two lecturers.

The acting Head, Information Unit, Mr. Matthew Adekoya, initially told The Education Report that he was hearing the issue for the first time and cannot comment on it.

Probed further, he said: “Investigations is on-going. There is a committee in place looking into the issue.’’

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