An unusual calmness is now reigning over the campus of The Polytechnic, Ibadan, the state capital after the institution’s management declared the suspension of all academic activities – for 7 days – but some major incidents have been fingered to be chief causes of the sudden verdict. One of them is the aggravated violence that broke out while the students were engaged in an inter-faculties football tournament.
At around 11am on Friday, the population was scanty and some students were seen with brief luggages, making their ways to exit the premises of the school by approaching a small gate which leads to Apete area in the city of Ibadan. Few of them snappily beckoned gave background story to the issues surrounding the halt to their academics.
Why the school was suddenly shutdown?
“It happened in front of my shop’, so began the account of Mr. Olayiwola Yakub, a computer operator at O. Olayemi Computers, whose outlet is located opposite the North Campus Main Field of the institution.
According to him, Oyeniyi Tobi, a HND student and sport director of the National Association of Polytechnic Engineering Students (NAPES) was stabbed on the head while the Faculty of Engineering (FENG) Queens and their Faculty of Business and Communication Studies (FBCS) counterpart were playing on Wednesday.
“On the second day, they returned to Olori Hall of Residence to retaliate the injury sustained by their colleague. Some other students later protested against the existence of The Students’ Forum with placards signaling their resistance’, he further explained.
Two different anonymous sources disclosed that the group of thugs was led by armed ‘Spirit’, a notorious guy on campus. In fact they were said to have invaded Olori Hall to snatch the students’ phones. They also vandalized the billboard belonging to the Press Council in front of the hostel.
Their grievance was that the females captured their faces while the fracas started on Wednesday afternoon.
‘Spirit’ was said to have graduated from same faculty about two years ago.
Olaniyi Ajewole, a student of Accountancy added that he first heard about the Wednesday’s violence through his class’ Whatsapp group.
‘Both I and a friend, whom we both stayed together in Quarters, had already made up our minds not to enter campus until mid-day because of the anticipated crisis. From around 10am, our colleagues were returning from school to give us gist about the face-off’, he narrated.
“They said they saw guns, cutlass and sticks’, he also pointed out.
Although the management of the institution Ibadan conformed the violence among the students but it was not stated that the school was shut down for same reason.
In an initial circular and exclusively obtained from Mr. Soladoye Adewole, the institution’s spokesperson, the Students’ Union was suspended till further notice because it was culpable of breaking school’s rules and responsibilities that posed threat to the peace and tranquility of the institution.
The second press release was the declaration for the mid-semester break compelling all students to evacuate the campus as the Police was invited to facilitate that.
Students’ Forum dragged into crisis, management denies group
A popular group within The Polytechnic, Ibadan, the Students’ Forum with membership drawn from current students and alumni, were alleged of being key players in the violence.
A lecturer, who didn’t want name in print, confirmed that there were shootings during last Thurday’s crisis, adding that reign of cultism within the school has resumed.
Three friends from Urban and Regional Planning, who craved anonymity for fear of intimidation, revealed that the students’ forum are the perpetrators of violence in their school.
One of them even said: ‘don’t be carried away by their name. The group said they are for anti-cultism but their activities are dangerous and tend to resemble that of a cult. They are the ones making troubles in this school’.
On the allegation levied against the Students’ Forum, the PRO categorically mentioned that the group is not registered or recognized by the school.
‘We renew registration of all groups on campus per session and this is done by the assessment of their performances and activities in the past year. In this session, students’ forum is not approved and therefore, illegal’.
On the question that some students belong to the group, he quickly stated that: “if any cult group exists around and prides of membership does that mean it’s registered as a party by INEC?”
“The problem we have with our students is that they don’t attend orientation programmes organized by the school and other associations on campus. There, we inform them about the legal groups they can join. Division of Students’ Affairs also has a record of all groups.
“Although I was not there during the violence but it is not impossible indeed to have the use of guns but it is illegal. I don’t expect any students to have guns. The simple truth is that outsiders could have infiltrated them while they had face-off,” the school PRO also said.
What the law says about cultism in the tertiary institution
Section 62 (1) of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act, makes membership of unlawful societies a crime against the Nigerian state and explicitly defines all forms of a cult group as unlawfulsociety or/and such that levies or encourages the killing or injuring of any person, inciting violence and intimidation, e.t.c.
Section 64 provides a jail term of three years as punishment for cultism.
If, indeed, this group has been found notorious, to have derailed from their founding objectives and illegal, the onus lies on the management of The Polytechnic lol to engage the security operatives to track down the members and jettison their activities in the school and among students, before it gets impossible to contain.