By Timothy Agbor, Osogbo
There was tension on the campus of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife on Wednesday, 9th July, 2014 when one of the hostels in the institution was gutted by fire.
The inferno which occurred around 10pm at the Awolowo Hall of the institution razed down Room 107 of Block 7 in the male hostel.
According to eye witnesses’ account, some male occupants of the hostel had gone to watch Wednesday match between Argentina and Netherlands at the ongoing World Cup in Brazil when the apartment was engulfed in huge blaze.
The students who have refused to vacate the campus in line with the management’s directive claimed to have heard a loud bang before the fire started. They however rallied round and hurriedly extinguished the inferno before fire fighters got to the scene and joined them.
“Looking at the room from here and seeing the quality of the concrete that was used to build the hostels, there’s more to this fire outbreak than meets the eye. Part of the concrete got opened, both roof and wall, all windows, sideways are shattered, even outside the room, the ceiling concrete has broken, the whole room is something else.”
“I tell you what, this couldn’t have been a mere fire incident. Even though i cannot say it’s a bomb, but seeing is believing.”, a student of the university who preferred anonymity said.
Addressing a press conference in Osogbo on Thursday, 10th July, 2012, in marking the 15th year remembrance of the five students of the institution that were gruesomely murdered by a group of cultists on July 10, 1999, the President of the university Students’ Union, Comrade Ibikunle Isaac called on the federal government and security agencies to investigate the fire occurrence saying it was a mystery.
Ibikunle who disclosed that the room that was gutted by fire was under lock and key due to the management’s vacation order that forced some students out of the campus said he suspected an explosion owing to the gravity of the destruction.
The students’ union president noted that since the massacre of the then institution’s Students’ Union Secretary General, George Iwilade a.k.a. Africa; Yemi Ajiteru, Eviano Ekelemu, Tunde Oke (Sabo) and Godspower by agents of secret cult, the university had maintained zero tolerance for cultism and has been intensifying campaign against it on campus.
According to him, “Having taken a critical view of the imbroglio, it has been established that cultism in Nigeria is a fallout of the myriad of phases in which the Nigerian government have been failing over the years. The government has continually failed in enacting progressive socio-economic policies to help curb the degradation of the system.”
He therefore urged the university management led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Bamitale Omole to re-open the school and reverse the hiked fees saying the 1999 attack on OAU campus was an aftermath of a struggle against increment in fees as implemented by the then VC, Prof. Wale Omole.