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Court restrains FG from renaming UNILAG after Abiola
By Benson Akomo
June 25, 2012 19:59:37pm GMT
UNILAG gate

Lagos (WorldStage Newsonline)-- Justice Steven Adah of the  Federal High Court sitting in Ikeja on Monday granted an interim order restraining the Federal Government from going ahead with its plan to change the name of the University of Lagos to Moshood Abiola University, Lagos.

Justice Adah, who granted the order following two separate suits filed by the alumni association and some students of the university, held that the order would last pending the determination of the suit.

According to the court, "No action should be taken to jeopardise this res (subject matter of the suit) pending the hearing and determination of the suit," Adah said.

At Monday sitting counsel representing the plaintiffs in the two suits, Afolabi Fashanu (SAN) had urged the court to issue the interim order to maintain status quo, because the Federal Government is "desperate" to give effect to the presidential pronouncement.

The motion was not opposed to by the two counsels, representing the University of Lagos and the Council of the University of Lagos, Prof. Taiwo Osipitan, SAN, and Mrs. Titi Akinlawon, SAN representing the Senate of the University.

However, the Attorney General of the Federation, Bello Adoke, and the National Assembly - the fourth and fifth defendants in the suits - were not represented by counsel at the proceedings despite confirmation by the plaintiffs' counsel that all parties in the suits had been served with court process.

Both Osipitan and Akinlawon are yet to file their defence, saying they had just been briefed.

The judge adjourned the matter till July 4 for hearing of the motion on notice.

The respondents in the two suits are the University of Lagos, the Council of the University of Lagos, the Senate of the University of Lagos, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Bello Adoke and the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The National President and Secretary of the Alumni Association of the university, Prof. Olayide Abass and Femi Olatunji, respectively, on behalf of the association, instituted the suit seeking nine reliefs which are similar to 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 judge, however, directed that the two suits be harmonised.

The plaintiffs who put six questions before the court for determination, are urging the court to declare that "the pronouncement of 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, Moshood Abiola University, Lagos' is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever and howsoever."

They also wanted 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."

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