Students, VC speak on controversial expulsion of Unilorin final year student

UniIorin gate used to illustrate the story.

The University of Ilorin and some students have spoken on the controversy over the expulsion of a final year student of the Department of Veterinary Surgery and Radiology, Alada Babatunde. The student was expelled by the university for alleged examination malpractice.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Babatunde with matriculation number 14/32TA069 was expelled after the Students’ Disciplinary Committee found him guilty of examination misconduct.

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 the 2016/2017 academic session.

Mr Babatunde, however, denied the allegation and also noted that due process was not followed during his appearance before the panel.

“Neither was my phone nor 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 and to ensure a fair hearing and a just conclusion,” Mr Babatunde said in his statement of explanation to the school.

In his reaction to PREMIUM TIMES enquiry, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Sulyman Abdulkareem, told our correspondent via a text message that the institution has a good system that victimises no one.

“What you heard is not true. We have a very good system that victimises no one”, Mr Abdulkareem said. He did not respond to specific questions on violations
of due process and lack of fair hearing on the matter.

Also, four of the eight students who wrote the said examination told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr Babatunde’s issue seemed “political” as he was not presented with any examination malpractice form in the hall.

These students spoke with our correspondent under the condition of anonymity for fear of being victimised.

“We were divided into two classes and I was in the hall where Alada wrote the exam. He was the last to come and he sat at the back. While the examination was ongoing, we heard him having a conversation with the invigilator. In fact, no issue of malpractice was raised at that point,” one of the students, a lady, said.

Another final year student of medicine said Mr Babatunde was not given the malpractice form to fill, which is the first thing expected of an invigilator when a student is caught cheating.

“He was not given any malpractice form in our presence to validate the claim of the invigilator and that is the first thing expected if any student is caught cheating”, he said.

The two other students expressed worry that their comments may be used against them by the university management and therefore told PREMIUM TIMES that they were neutral.

It would be recalled that an official of the institution who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES earlier said Mr Babatunde 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.”

What Unilorin’s Student Handbook States

According to the procedure of treating alleged examination misconduct in the university’s student handbook obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, when a student is caught cheating, the invigilator may ask the student to leave the examination venue and shall immediately after the completion of the paper report to the Dean.

The guideline also said the student would be required to sign a written document in the examination hall. Failure to do this is regarded as admission of the charge by the student.

Lastly, “the Dean shall within 48 hours of receiving report set up a panel of not less than three academic staff to investigate the alleged misconduct and the report shall be made available in two weeks through the Deputy Registrar who shall on the basis of recommendation determined whether the matter should receive the attention of the Students Disciplinary Committee.”

However, the case of Mr Babatunde was different as he claimed he was never asked to write any statement as stipulated in the university handbook.

The invigilator was also said not to have submitted any report to the dean within 48 hours.

“The Dean claimed no such matter was filed until August 10, 2017 (17 days) after we had a new Dean when I got a letter to explain the chain of the occurrence,” his appeal to the university read.

Mr Babatunde also said the demand of the chairperson of the SDC to see the invigilator to testify against him was not attended to.

Meanwhile, the student said he may approach the court of law to address his “illegal expulsion without due process”.

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