Human RightsNews

Management Ignores Student’s Death, Asks Protesters To Apologise For Causing School Closure

The university's Senate applauded the Vice-chancellor for shutting down the school after students protested over the death of their colleague.

The management of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, Southwest Nigeria, has moved to set up a committee to probe the protests by the students of the university over the death of their colleague. 

Margaret Omosule, Registrar of the institution, said in a statement obtained by HumAngle that the university’s Senate, a supreme organ in charge of academic matters, also applauded the decision of the vice-chancellor to shut down the school.  

HumAngle reported how students of the institution blocked major roads in Ile-Ife on Oct. 1, over the death of their colleague, Aisha Adesina, who was said to have died as a result of official neglect at the university’s health centre.

In response to the protest, the management of the university announced the shutdown of school and the suspension of inauguration of newly elected student union officials. 

Senate ignores cause of death

The university’s Senate had an emergency meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 5, where issues surrounding the closure of the university were discussed.¬†

While the authorities moved to probe the students’ protest, they ignored the allegation of negligence levelled against the officials of the institution‚Äôs health centre which reportedly led to the death of the female student.

The school registrar, Omasule, said in her statement that “senate unequivocally, condemned the students‚Äô action in its entirety and frowned at the blocking of the Ife/lbadan and Ife/Ede highways and other adjoining roads.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúThe Senate commended the vice-chancellor and the entire management on the prompt and proactive decision to suspend students‚Äô activities stressing that precious lives could have been lost, if actions had been delayed. It therefore affirmed its support for the decision taken by Management that: (1) students should vacate the campus and their respective halls of residence; (2) the swearing-in of the newly elected Students‚Äô Union officers be put on hold.‚ÄĚ

The committee is expected to present its report within two weeks.

HumAngle reached out to Abiodun Olarewaju, the university’s spokesperson, on why OAU kept mum on the allegations against health officials but his known telephone numbers could not be reached as of the time of filing this report. 

Meanwhile, multiple sources in the school including academic staff members and student union officials told HumAngle that the university has instructed the student-leaders who led last week’s protest to admit wrongdoing and tender apology.¬†

Also, a lecturer who was privy to the deliberation at the senate told our reporter that a top official accused the students of extorting motorists on highways during the protest. 

“The professor argued that the students were extorting motorists during the protest which the Senate believed was a dent on the image of school. This is why they are now asking them to write an apology letter,” the lecturer who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak said.¬†

HumAngle spoke with multiple students who participated in the protest and they all denied the extortion allegations. 

“The management in their usual manner is just looking for an excuse to justify the illegal closure of the school,” Kunle Raji, one of the students said.¬†

Students want health centre’s workers sanction

The public relations officer-elect of the university‚Äôs students‚Äô union, Ogunperi Taofeek, had earlier said in a statement that “Adesina‚Äôs death was not the first to happen due to negligence of duties by the workers at the health centre.”

“We call on the University Management to investigate this death and punish all health workers who failed in performing their duties when Aishat needed attendance which they failed to give but only transferred her in her last moments to Seventh Day Hospital where she eventually died.

‚ÄúWithout a proper and quick investigation (one which must actively involve and be communicated to students) and punishment meted, the University Management will be putting the lives of students in danger. We cannot let our lives become toys. We will have to protest this, as we cannot afford to keep losing our lives like fowls.‚ÄĚ

Speaking with HumAngle, Wole Olubanji, a graduate of OAU and member of Movement for Socialists Alternative (MSA), a human rights group said the university’s health centre was not properly equipped to care for the population of students in the school. 

“When the university authorities issued two statements and tried deflecting responsibility, nothing could be more irresponsible, I thought,‚ÄĚ Olubanji said.¬†

‚ÄúManagement ended up shutting down the school, to gag the students who have been legitimately, understandably, protesting the death of their colleagues. That was insensitive, cruel and should have no place in civil society. Who turns thousands of students on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, for example, for an unplanned trip home in the middle of examinations? OAU management.‚ÄĚ

“The demands of the students are sensible enough. Upgrade the health centre. They wanted the VC to address them. As it turns out, the VC shut the school because the students will not come down to his office building to hear his funeral oration. What’s wrong with going to the SUB to calm frayed nerves, legitimately frayed nerves?‚ÄĚ

“The present student union leadership is the first after a 4-year interregnum. Great Ife will rise again. It always does. No length of proscription can erase history and the rich lessons that have become cultural concentrates in Ife.”

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Adejumo Kabir

Kabir works at HumAngle as the Editor of Southern Operations. He is interested in community development reporting, human rights, social justice, and press freedom. He was a finalist in the student category of the African Fact-checking Award in 2018, a 2019 recipient of the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence, and a 2020 recipient of the Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award. He was also nominated in the journalism category of The Future Awards Africa in 2020. He has been selected for various fellowships, including the 2020 Civic Media Lab Criminal Justice Reporting Fellowship and 2022 International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) 'In The Name of Religion' Fellowship.

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