Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Comrade Bamidele Akpan and the Vice Chancellor, Federal University, Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE), Prof. Kayode Soremekun, have signed a peace deal on how to restore peace to the institution after the killings of two students, Okonofua Joseph and Dada Kehinde during a protest last week.
The peace deal included restoration of light to the town by Benin Electricity Distribution Company, lifting of ban on students’ union government, reopening of the institution, among others. Akpan, in company of NANS’ leaders met with the Vice Chancellor yesterday where they agreed to work together and make concessions for peace to reign.
The students were killed last Tuesday in Oye-Ekiti during a controversial protest where students had attacked the convoy of Ekiti State First Lady, Erelu Bisi Fayemi.
Speaking during the parley, Akpan said: “We are here on a very sad note first to sympathise with the management and students of the school on the unfortunate students. We have been in Ekiti for three days doing fact finding. We had sent an advanced team to see, and to ensure that students with capacity to foment trouble are not allowed to do so. No students have been seen fomenting any trouble.
According to him, “Having completed our findings, we came to the realisation that our students did what they had to do within the ambience of the law. In this case, students protested peacefully and after that the FUOYE SUG President was summoned by the police and that was when the trouble started.
“We have heard about the closure of the university, which was done to ensure that normalcy returned. We appeal that it’s time to reopen the school with the assurance that nothing bad will happen. We have taken care of all along with the FUOYE students and we are all on the same page.
“We also want to call for your support for the SUG, I have also spoken with the agencies in charge of power and they have promised to do the needful. The students have one or two requests which they wanted me to amplify, first is availability of street lights which will make movement easy for students at anytime on campus.
“In the interest of all, may I appeal to you to lift the ban on the students’ union. The SUG has not done anything wrong and an attempt to victimise any of them will not be in the interest of any of us. I beg of you to reconsider your stand on the proscription of the SUG.”
In his remarks, the vice chancellor said the management had visited the families of the bereaved, adding that “Prof. Bolaji Aluko has told me that there is a contract of power for the nation’s university system and they will factor FUOYE in it.”
“Regarding street lights, we intend to go into solar but we need money for that. This country has many tertiary institutions, which are being run by the federal government. We only access very small money from the federal government and what we have is not enough. We are only supplementing that with fees from students.
“Our fees are low but the huge number of students can help. We will put the street lights in place once students begin to pay.
“We are having the Council meeting on October 3 and 4, where we will discuss the issue of reopening. What we did is to put the SUG of FUOYE on hold in order to reorganie, and reassess the situation, to see if it is possible to engage in a paradigm shift.
“Even though, we have proscribed the SUG, I have been picking the calls of the executives and they can testify to this. Once I meet with the University Council, we will sort out all these issues,” he said.
On the issue of a female student allegedly molested by a lecturer, Soremekun said: “About the Professor who allegedly ravaged a female student, I am happy you mentioned this. I will give you an account of what happened. When the issue was brought up, the then dean of students’ affairs set up a panel.
“Before I could act, we had a senate meeting in which many were very vociferous about the issue. I cautioned them not to over-react so we would not be seen as prejudging the case.
“I subsequently set up my own panel based on the rules of the university, and when I saw the findings I was outraged and I decided to suspend the Professor with a view to putting him before the staff disciplinary committee. At that point in time, he threw in his letter which was odd and when I consulted, I was advised that I could not stop him.
“I am a father of six daughters and I share deeply the pain of the poor girl. A well known Reverend Sister in this university had also approached me along with at the girl’s parents, pleading that they didn’t want the case pushed any further, probably to protect her image. But in spite of that I still went ahead with the case.”