BY DAUD OLATUNJI
….Maladministration fueled crisis
The Vice-Chancellor, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State, Professor Saburi Adesanya, has refuted rumours that four students were killed in the recent crisis that rocked the university, saying no student died during the rampage.
It would be recalled that students of the university recently took to the streets to protest the management’s decision to prevent some students from writing the forthcoming examinations on the grounds that they owed the school.
Few hours after the violent crisis began, the social media was awash with insinuations that the police in the state have killed four protesting students during the disturbance. As a result, parents and guardians became anxious over the wellbeing of their wards. To worsen the situation, some people spread the false information that the state governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, had ordered the police to ‘shoot at sight’ any student that goes on rampage.
Twenty-four hours before the ruckus began, a release signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Taiwo Adeoluwa, warned yet-to-be registered students to stay away from the campus.
According to the statement, “Following the expiration of the deadline given to students to regularise their records with the university, the Ogun State Government has directed that only students of the university who have fully complied with the directives should come to the campuses to commence their examinations for the 2012/2013 harmattan semester which begins on Monday, May 20.
“The government warns all students who have not completed the registration formalities or fully paid their school fees to stay away from the university campuses. The government had compelled the university authorities to postpone the harmattan semester examination three times in the past to allow all students to regularise their
“From the students audit conducted by the Olusegun Osinowo Visitation Panel in 2011 to review situation in the university, five categories of students were identified. The first category of students included those who are properly registered, have matriculation numbers and are up-to-date in the payment of their school fees.
“The second category consisted of students who have matriculation numbers but requested that they be allowed to pay their school fees in installments. The third category of students are those who have matriculation numbers but have defaulted in the payment of school fees over the years because they claimed their parents could not afford to pay.”
“The fourth category include students who are mainly in Parts 3 and 4 but did not register or pay school fees for the previous academic years. This category had been directed by the University’s Governing Council in line with the National University Commission’s conditions to apply for reinstatement of their studentship which had lapsed as a result of their non-registration for one or more academic sessions.
“The fifth group are those without matriculation numbers and are therefore not bona fide students of the university, though they loiter around the university campuses pretending to be students.
“The State Government having reviewed the situation directed that while it regarded those in the first category as the only set of qualified students who could sit for the examinations from Monday, May 20, it advised those in category 5 to steer clear of the university campuses henceforth, or face the wrath of the law.
“The students in categories 2 and 3, having failed to utilize the three deadlines set by the University council for them to regularize their financial records, have been advised to immediately apply for deferment of the academic year in line with the school regulations.
“Having given enough time for all students to resolve all outstanding issues surrounding their qualification to sit for the examination, any student who plans to foment trouble will face the full wrath of the law as the university authorities have the full backing of the State Government in their determination to sanitize the university.
“We appeal to all parents, guardians and indeed all students to co-operate with the government as the on-going reforms in OOU are designed to restore the university to its former glory and status in the comity of Nigerian universities.
Irked by the decision of the state government to strip them the status of studentship, the affected students trooped out in droves and went on rampage, using two of the student union government buses to barricade the road leading to the entrance of the institution, thus preventing staff and other students from gaining entry into the main campus.
The Police in the state also denied the alleged killing of four students in the protest, saying only 10 were arrested.
The Assistant Police Commissioner in charge of Operations Mr. Mohammad Abdulkadri confirmed that 10 suspected rioters have been arrested and two buses seized from them with no casualty. Vanguard Learning gathered that, the students rejected the appeal made by Abdulkadri and Ijebu Area Commander Usman Alabi to shelve the planned action and allow movement in and outside of the main campus.
The situation caused a stampede at the main gate as police fired tear gas to disperse the ravaging students. “Teargas canisters were fired by the police to disperse the protesters, but, death or injury of any of them could not be ascertained as the police did not fire gun shot at any student”, he said.
The VC also said the regularization was in line with the federal government directive through the National University Commission (NUC), requesting all universities to provide a comprehensive students audit within the next six weeks.
Prof. Adesanya added that the only way to achieve this was to compile the list of bona fide students who have been dully registered through payment of school fees.
“The deadline has before now shifted for more than three times to allow them complete their registration which some of them refuse to do.”
Reacting on behalf of the Students Union Government, Vice President of the Union OOU, Ajayi Oyindamola, said they have been on the struggle with the institution for extension of the deadline for the past three months.
She explained that the students acknowledged the step of the institution over the regularization issue, but added that the closure of the school portal for payment and generation of receipt made things difficult for them.
Oyindamola further claimed that the SUG had pleaded on behalf of the affected students who have not paid their school fees for 2010/2011, 2011/2012,and 2012/2013 academic session for more extension due to the present economic situation of the country which did not go well with the school management.
The students who were sent away from the scene of the protest returned to the Ago-Iwoye township to regroup and made bone fires along the street, disrupting vehicular movement of other law abiding residents of the community.