By Timothy Agbor, Osogbo
The management of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife on Wednesday, 18th June, 2014 shut down the institution indefinitely ordering students to vacate the school within 48 hours.
The closing down of the university was necessitated following a protest embarked upon by the students of the institution in the early hours of Wednesday, 18th June, 2014 over the hike in the school fees.
According to a statement issued by the Public Relations Officer of the institution, Mr. Abiodun Olanrewaju, the shutting down of the school was to forestall total break down of law and order.
The statement reads: “the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, wishes to announce to the general public that due to persistent and violent disruption of normal activities and peace on campus occasioned by unrelenting demonstrations by students, led by the Student Union Executive, the Senate of the University have decided to close down the University indefinitely.
”This decision was taken in order to forestall further breakdown of law and order and to sefeguard life and property on campus.
”Consequently, all students are directed to vacate their Halls of Residence and the University premises immediately but not later than 4:00 pm on Thursday, 19th June, 2014.
”All parents and guardians are hereby enjoined to ensure that their children and wards comply with this directive immediately.”
Meanwhile, the students of the university had since the last four weeks embarked on series of protests insisting that the management should reverse the increased fee to the old rate.
But Wednesday’s protest took an unusual dimension as students of the institution angrily locked out the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Bamitale Omole and other principal officers of the institution at the Senate Building.
The protesting students were also said to have chased out other staff from their offices insisting that the management should reverse the hiked charges or face severe demonstrations
The students who had converged at Anglo Moz Car Park on campus around 7am made their way to the Senate Building of the institution carrying placards with various inscriptions before they besieged the administrative blocks on campus and chased workers mostly non-academic out of their offices.
It was gathered that the main entrance gate of the university was locked thus preventing inflow and outflow of human and vehicular movements to the campus.
While chanting anti-management songs on the top of their voices to force the Prof. Bamitale Omole led management to rescind its decision on the hiked school fees, the protesting students forced the Hezekiah Ilesanmi Library to be shut as workers hurriedly vacated the building.
Also, the school bookshop was not spared as students thronged the bookshop to forestall buying and selling of wares. Some principal officers among other workers were locked out at the senate building as some workers were spotted peeping at the students through their offices’ windows.
One of the protesters who identified himself as Peter told our correspondent that “we have taken over the floor of the senate building, we have also closed the main entrance of the institution and barricaded other exit of the school.
“The VC and the governing council must reverse our school fees to status quo. We are poor students who cannot afford the skyrocketted charges. We are not violent students and that’s why we have embarked on this peaceful demonstration”.
The protesting students later re-grouped at the motion ground of the campus as some of them were sighted playing football amidst other activities.
But the apparently frustrated affected workers who were chased out of their offices were seen loitering around their offices, while some took shield under the school trees. As at the time of filing this report, neither the VC nor any principal officer addressed the students.
Recalled that the protesting students on Monday, 16th June, 2014 locked out Prof. Omole and other principal officers when they shut the school Senate Building.
A statement issued by the Student Union President, Comrade Ibikunle Isaac reads: “this is to notify you (management) that Great Ife Students resolved on Sunday 15th June, 2014 during their congress which is the highest decision making body of the Students movement to stage at intervals peaceful protests and other actions starting from Monday, 16th June, 2014 the University management yields to our demand which is a total reversal of the astronomical and sudden hiked fees in the university among other demands.
“Students have also withdrawn all academic and related activities such as receiving of lectures, registration, until further notice by the Union.”
The management had increased the fee payable by the newly admitted students from N37,150 and N42,150 to N82,400, N92,700 and N95,700 depending on the faculties. These new charges include the N20,000 acceptance fee.
The charges of returning students of the institution for different faculties was also hiked from N5,300, N7,800, N10, 300 and N12,800 per session to N19,700, N30,700 and N33,700.