A final year student of the Department of Veterinary Surgery and Radiology at the University of Ilorin who was expelled for alleged examination malpractice has accused the institution of not giving him a fair hearing.
Babatunde Alada of the Faculty of Veterinary said although his action was “regrettable,” he remained innocent of the offence he allegedly committed.
The university had, in a letter signed by the Registrar, Modupe Olowoleni, on July 12, 2018, stated that Mr Babatunde had been expelled after the Students’ Disciplinary Committee found him guilty of examination misconduct.
In the letter, obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, the university said the student was caught with a Blackberry cell phone containing materials relevant to the examination written on July 24 during the rain semester of 2016/2017 academic session, an allegation which the student denied.
But speaking to PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Alada said he responded to the allegation through a letter to the Students’ Disciplinary Committee denying that he did not exhibit any act of misconduct during examination.
In his letter sent to the disciplinary panel in February and also obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Alada claimed that the cell phone obtained by the invigilator was not with him during the examination.
“It is worthy to note that the phone was switched off while charging and kept in a place very far from my reach (at the window side, to avoid it being stolen) when the invigilator saw it and took it, while the exam was ongoing.
“As I look forward to your compassionate consideration on the regrettable mistake of keeping the switched off phone close to the examination hall, I also tender my apology that it was not intended for any form of examination malpractice or misconduct,” his letter of explanation to the panel read.
No ‘fair hearing’
Following his dismissal from the university a year after the allegation, the student noted that no real proceeding was followed during his appearance at the panel as the invigilator was not called to testify against him during the disciplinary committee sittings.
“Neither was my phone or alleged materials viewed in my presence to guarantee fair hearing despite the demand of the chairperson of the SDC, Professor N. Y. S. Ijaiya to see the invigilator, to ensure fair hearing and a just conclusion,” he said.
Mr Alada said in his appeal that the chief invigilator during the examination was not informed of any examination misconduct, in accordance with the university’s guideline.
“I was surprised that the SDC could have drawn some recommendations to the Vice Chancellor in a case where no real proceeding was ever conducted,” he said.
He, however appealed to the authority to save his academic endeavours.
Some students, who were present during the examination and a university official, who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES, said Mr Alada is suffering for an “honest human error.”
Others blamed him for bringing his mobile phone near the examination hall.
One of the students, who simply identified herself as Rukayat said: “We are all surprised to hear that Alada Aliyu Babatunde was expelled. I was present in the class on that day. The phone was very far away from any student and the invigilator never questioned him. To hear that he is being punished speaks volume of the system.
“I am sure if some of us were called to give account of what transpired, he would not have been expelled”.
An official of the university who asked not to be named, (for fear of victimisation), said if due process had been followed, the student would not have been expelled.
“He made (a) mistake but since he was not caught cheating, a lesser punishment should have been awarded. But you know we are in the system, we cannot question the authority.”
Another student said, “the silly mistake he made was that the phone was seen. If the phone was not close to the hall, nobody would have alleged him. His case should serve as a lesson to others. On the side of the management, witnesses should have been invited.”
Efforts by PREMIUM TIMES to get the reaction of the university’s management to seek clarification on the expulsion were unsuccessful as the Vice Chancellor, Sulyman Abdulkareem, neither picked his calls nor responded to text messages sent to him.