Nigerian polytechnic shut amid ‘rift’ between lecturer, student union president

Federal Polytechnic, Ede, Osun
Federal Polytechnic, Ede, Osun

The Federal Polytechnic, Ede in Osun State, on Tuesday, announced the closure of the school premises with immediate effect.

The second semester examination of the school was earlier scheduled for next week Monday.

According to an internal memorandum obtained by this correspondent, the Registrar, O.A Ogunleye, stated that the decision was made after a meeting of the academic board held the same day.

“The Academic board at its 202 regular meeting held on Tuesday 10thSeptember, 2019, directed that the students should proceed on mid second semester break…”

The school will be reopened on Wednesday, September 25.

Troubled Institution

The closure came amid protests from students to stop any plan to rusticate the Students’ Union President, Lukman Rufai.

PREMIUM TIMES gathered that the embattled union leader is currently facing a panel for allegedly harassing a lecturer and being disrespectful ‘to constituted authorities’.

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On July 29, Mr Rufai ordered the deflation of the tyres of a car belonging to a lecturer identified as Francis Adeoye, claiming he violated a ‘No Parking’ order.

According to him, the order was placed to stop the cases of recurrent accidents that have happened on that road.

It was gathered that the chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics in the school, Nurudeen Masopa, intervened but the student leader maintained that anybody’s car, irrespective of the cadre, will be deflated if the order was violated.

According to a witness, Mr Masopa was embittered because “the president failed to show remorse”.

The issue was reported to the polytechnic authorities who reportedly found the act disrespectful.

Mr Rufai was summoned by an ad-hoc committee set up to investigate the case.

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The panel recommended that a warning be issued to both Messrs Rufai and Masopa and that was communicated in a letter dated August 22.

Mr Rufai was warned to desist from disrespectful acts.

“The management committee at its meeting held on Wednesday 14th of August 2019, delibrated on the report of the committee that investigated the allegation of harassment leveled against you and resolved that you should be warned to desist from acts of disrespect to constituted authority,” the letter to Mr Rufai, obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, read in part.

A top official, familiar with the case but who sought anonymity, stated that the Rector of the Polytechnic “condemned the act and instructed that Mr Rufai be warned instead of being sanctioned”.

However, the decision was reportedly not acceptable to ASUP, “who saw the pardon as a slap on the face of its member”.

The union threatened to withdraw her services from the polytechnic if Mr Rufai did not appear before the statutory committee saddled with the responsibility of hearing such cases.

In a letter dated September 2, the union wrote the polytechnic authorities and claimed that there has also not been any response from the Student Disciplinary Committee.

However, the statutory committee’s report was expected to be read on Tuesday before a protest broke out.

Protest

Meanwhile, a video obtained by this newspaper showed that the students, who assembled in their numbers on Tuesday, were ready to protest a ‘planned’ rustication of Mr Rufai by the panel.

Some students who spoke with this newspaper on the condition of anonymity pitched their tent with their president saying he was being victimised.

Also, in a telephone interview with this correspondent on Tuesday evening, Mr Rufai said “the lecturers’ union wanted to intimidate him because of his moves to curb sexual harassment against female students by lecturers”.

He insisted that the rift was a baseless premise for his sanction after the first committee has given a report and he was served a warning letter.

ASUP chairman, Mr Masopa also told PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday evening about the highhandness of the students’ resident.

He added that he (Rufai) was being supported by the school management “because the rector is his financier”.

The official said the union wanted the matter to be handled by the statutory committee.

He noted the union nnever demanded the students union officer’s rustication as it is ready to comply with the outcome of the investigation by the Students Disciplinary Committee.

“If they are saying we demanded for a punishment, tell them to show you a document that suggests that. We have never stated it in any of our letters,” he said.

“We have decided to withdraw our services because we don’t feel safe in this environment.”

He added that it would have been a different case “if the president was remorseful rather than the scheme being used by the management to shield him. All we want is justice”.

Meanwhile, the Dean of Students Affairs, Isiaka Adelabu, declined commenting when this newspaper reached out on Tuesday evening.

He said “his comments will be prejudicial and that the school awaits the recommendation of the new panel”.

He also did not respond to accusations against the management by Mr Masopa.

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