Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) has provided reasons for allowing the police to drag five of its students to court.
The university accused the students of assaulting and holding hostage one of its officials assigned to enforce an order evicting them from the hostels.
The five students, Gbenga Olaniran, Oyedeji Samson, Olajide Adedamola, Jimoh Oladipupo and Adeniji John, were on Thursday arraigned at the Ife Magistrate Court a day after their arrest.
We earlier reported how the students, civil groups and staff of the university condemned the school’s management for handing over its own students to the police for prosecution.
In a statement it issued on Monday through its spokesperson, Abiodun Olarewaju, the university authorities debunked the claim that the students were arrested and arraigned for protesting an alleged illegal eviction of students from their hostels.
The statement said the university would not condone the staff and students breaching the laws of the land and the university’s motto of “For Learning and Culture.”
It said the management had given a directive that all students resident on campus should vacate halls of residence to enable renovation works and repairs to be carried out before the commencement of the next academic session.
It further said allocation of bed spaces in the hostels is always for one academic session, and students are expected to vacate the hostels at the end of each session.
“We are aware that some students would be on SIWES, IT, Teaching Practice and other compulsory academic programs during the period, the university had designated two hostels on the campus, one each for male and female students, for the accommodation of these groups of students”, the statement by the spokesperson read.
The spokesperson said some students refused to vacate the hostels in spite of several notices to them and contrary to the directive of the university.
“On Wednesday, March 21, 2018, the Hall Warden and Porters at Moremi Hall (a Female Hostel) moved round the hostel and reminded students unlawfully occupying the hostel to move out.
“The students were complying when all of a sudden, some men came out of nowhere and forcefully moved the belongings of the female students back into the hostel on the ground that the university had no right to ask them to pack out,” the statement read.
It further alleged that the students were extremely rude to a hall warden, harassed and physically assaulted the hall staff and also held them hostage.
According to the statement, “the men who assaulted the university staff were reported to the police and upon investigation, (the police) decided that they had a case to answer and consequently filed charges against them in the law court.
“It subsequently turned out that these men are students of the university who are not on any academic program and do not belong to the group exempted and accommodated in Akintola and ETF Halls as earlier pointed out, contrary to the rumours making the rounds, the students charged to court were not charged for protesting or for dissent,” the university said.
According to Mr. Olarewaju, the university as one of the leading academic institutions in Nigeria, respects dissent and would not punish any member for expressing their opinions.
The university enjoined parents and guardians to impress it on their wards to respect the laws of Nigeria and the rules and regulations of the university.
Meanwhile Dunsi Samuel, the acting co-ordinator, Education Rights Campaign, OAU chapter, said none of the wardens was harassed or assaulted, faulting the management’s statement as false.
“There was nothing like protest on that day. But in the early hours of today during the mass awareness, the NASU and SSANU confirmed to us that the hall warden which the authority claimed was assaulted said nothing of such happened, she even said that was not what she wrote in her statement,” he said.
The students are yet to be released .
The bail terms for each of the students include N500, 000 bond and provision of two sureties, who must be civil servants of level 11 and above and who are tax payers.