Justice Steven Adah of the Federal High Court in Ikeja yesterday ordered the suspension of the change of name of University of Lagos (UNILAG) to Moshood Abiola University (MAU), pending the hearing and determination of the two suits challenging President Jonathan’s decision to rename the tertiary instution.
The judge in his interim order also asked that status quo be maintained on the issue.
Jonathan, during his democracy day speech on May 29 announced his decision to rename UNILAG, a move which triggered days of UNILAG student protests within and outside the tertiary institution.
The UNILAG alumni association and majority of the tertiary institution’s academic staff condemned the presidents decision.
Justice Adah directed that parties in the two suits must not take any action capable of jeopardising the outcome of the suits pending their hearing and final determination.
Adah reiterated the order in the two suits, one of which was filed by the Alumni Association of the university and the other by the students of the institution.
“No action should be taken to jeopardise the res (subject matter of the suit) pending the hearing and determination of the suit,” Adah said.
The judge gave the order following the requests by the counsel representing the plaintiffs in the two suits, Mr. Afolabi Fashanu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
Fashanu urged the court to either give “an interim order” to maintain the status quo or “extract an undertaking” from the defendants to do so.
He said the application for the order was urgent on the basis that the Federal Government was “desperate” to give effect to the presidential pronouncement.
At the proceedings, the two defence counsel, one representing UNILAG and the Governing Council of the university, Prof. Taiwo Osipitan, and the other representing UNILAG Senate, Mrs. Titi Akinlawon, did not oppose the request for the order.
The Attorney-General of the Federation, Bello Adoke, and the National Assembly – the fourth and fifth defendants in the suits – were not represented by any counsel at the proceedings.
The judge adjourned the matter till July 4 for hearing.
The President and Secretary of the Alumni Association of UNILAG, Prof. 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.
Before adjourning the matter the judge directed, the two sets of plaintiffs to harmonise their suits.
Lined up to prosecute the plaintiffs’ case are 14 SANs, among whom are Chief Wole Olanipekun, Chief Kanu Agabi, Alhaji Gani Adetola-Kazeem, Tayo Oyetibo, Chief Bola Ajibola, Roberte Clarke and Prof. Fidelis Oddittah.
The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare that the pronouncement of President of Republic of Nigeria in his national broadcast of May 29 changing the name of the university is null and void.
Among other orders being sought by the plaintiffs is one restraining the university and its Council from complying with the President’s broadcast.