The Ooni of Ile-Ife, Osun State, has described as unfounded and illogical the allegation by the Obafemi Awolowo University that Ife indigenes poisoned the dam that supplies water to the university.
The monarch of the ancient town, Adeyeye Ogunwusi, told PREMIUM TIMES that it is illogical for his people to poison themselves, as a large number of the members of OAU community are indigenes of Ile-Ife.
Speaking in a telephone interview with our reporter through his spokesperson, Moses Olafare, the monarch said he was surprised such a claim could be made by university management.
“How can Ife poison their own people? Either as students, staffers, shop owners or investors, the residents of OAU include more Ile-Ife indigenes than anywhere else. So how is it possible that members of the same family would choose to bomb themselves. That is unimaginable.”
PREMIUM TIMES had reported the university’s petition to the Osun State Commissioner of Police, accusing some indigenes of Ile-ife of poisoning the dam.
The university, in the petition that was signed by its Vice-Chancellor, Eyitope Ogunbodede, said the security guard at the dam, O.A Omotosho, was overpowered by the alleged invaders.
Mr Ogunbodede linked the incident to a crisis over land matter between the university and some indigenes of Ile-Ife.
But speaking further on the matter on Sunday, Mr Olafare said such matters are handled by the leadership of Ife Development Board. He added that there are existing channels of town and gown relationship between the ancient town and the university, and directed our reporter to speak with the board’s leadership.
The president of the board, L.O Awoyoyin, said if the incident indeed happened, it was condemnable.
In a short SMS to our reporter, Mr Awoyoyin, however, said as at the moment neither the board nor the palace had received any complaint from any quarters on the matter.
The short message reads; “Thank you. if it happens from anybody it is condemnable. As at now, Ife Development Board received no report/or complaint from anybody or Institution. I also expect His Imperial Majesty, Ooni Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, the Ooni of Ife should be appropriately informed for necessary action.”
However, speaking on the same matter, the secretary to the board, Lawrence Omidiora, said the community was looking into the matter and that the conclusion may be made public.
Mr Omidiora, in an SMS sent to our reporter, said; “…Thank you for your interest. It is a community issue and receiving some attention. Whatever the community decides would be made public if it so decides. God bless you.”
Meanwhile, PREMIUM TIMES is aware of an ongoing controversy over some parts of the land ceded to the government when the university was established in the 1960s.
According to sources in the town, who asked not to be named, the leadership of Ile-Ife is uncomfortable with the huge hectares of land unused by the institution and has appealed to the university to allocate part of it to the community for development.
OAU is said to own about 13,000 hectares of land and has not utilised more than 8,000 hectares since its establishment.
One of the sources told PREMIUM TIMES that; “The land ceded to the government by the late Oba Adesoji Aderemi in those days was almost half of the entire Ife land and more than 50 years after its establishment, the university is yet to occupy more than half.
“Yet, the community is in need of land for development. Should we continue to look at uncultivated land without any use? How long will it take OAU to occupy the land? There shouldn’t be any need for these controversies but something that should be resolved through dialogue.”