By Adejumo Kabir
Concerns are growing about the new way of suspending students at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.
At least, four students have been placed on ‘tactical’ suspension by the university authority as they are denied logging in to their student e-portal and inability to pay school fees nor register their courses for the new academic session.
The affected students; Alawode Afolabi Samuel, a 300 level student of Department of English, Kazeem Olalekan Israel, a 300 level student of Department of Political Science, Oyedeji Samson Iyanoluwa, a 300 level student of Faculty of Pharmacy and Gbenga Oloniniran, a 400 level student of Department of Geography.
While some of them told our correspondent that the deactivation of their e-portals cannot be disconnected from their role as student activists challenging the university on mass failure, epidemic water supplies and the poor state of the university generally, others said they are still in dark regarding what led to it as they were neither duly invited to any panel nor quarried.
Two of the students, Mr. Oloniniran and Mr. Iyanuoluwa were among the five students arrested, arraigned in the court and incarcerated in Koshere Prison, in March, for resisting forceful eviction of students from halls residence.
The university management alleged the students of criminal activities and claimed that some staff of Moremi Hall, a female hostel in the institution were attacked by these students. The five students are still on trials in court.
“I only discovered that after being released from the prison, I have not been able to access my e-portal account till this moment. I am still in dark regarding what led to it. This university is so unprincipled these days that they no longer go by due process of inviting you to panel to query you for anything before taking their so called disciplinary action. When try to log in, it says “your studentship status is not active as you are on disciplinary action”.
“If the university is trying to link it to my trial in Court as one of the OAU5, it is still not worth it because the court has not proven me guilty of anything. Besides, only two of us among the OAU5 have our portal accounts deactivated. I have made effort by writing letter to the Division of students’ affairs to seek explanation, but there has been no response from them. Even the CSO of the university was not also able to explain why when I met with him along other students”, Mr. Oloniniran
Also, Mr. Iyanuoluwa said he noticed his e-portal was deactivated “after the court granted us bail and I cannot say specifically when it was blocked. As regards the reason for the blockage of my portal, I sincerely have no idea because OAU has degenerated so much to a point where a management will wake up one day and block anyone’s portal anytime. I would have said it’s because of the oau5 case but I am not the only student who is involved in the case but only two of us were suspended. The only thing I know is I’m victimized and that is unjust.”
However, Afolabi Samuel said his e-portal was deactivated for “being part of some students who stood against some inhumane policies of the management. When the OAU5 were arrested, I wrote letter to DSA to know the reason for their action but they refuse to call us for interrogation. Meanwhile, sometimes in February the university through the DSA called my parents at home claiming that I write articles. A staff at the Division threatening that I will not graduate from the school. It has even started”, Mr. Samuel said.
When contacted, the Chief Security Officer of the institution, Oyatokun Babatunde who confirmed the students’ narration said he is not in the best position to speak. “I am sorry, I won’t be able to speak on this. It was carried out by Division of Students’ Affairs”.
When contacted last week Wednesday, the Dean of Students Affairs, Isiaka Aransi, said: “Call me back, I am in a meeting at Senate” , he said. However, all efforts to get his reaction since then proved abortive as he refused to answer calls put to him.
Suspension and deactivation of students Eportal appear reminiscent of a trend in Nigerian tertiary institutions where students are punished for leading protest against bad welfare conditions such as poor power supply, bad hostels condition, inadequate teaching facilities and so on. Similar suspensions have also been carried out at the University of Ibadan, the University of Lagos, the, Osun State Polytechnic, Iree and University of Benin.