By Onche Odeh
Osun State Commissioner of Police, Mrs. Dorothy Gimba, has declared that Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), one of Nigeria’s leading tertiary education institutions, has become a haven for armed robbers, cyber criminals, otherwise known as Yahoo boy; rapists, and cultist.
The students would, however, not accept this claim by the Nigeria Police, which they have described as being brutal on them.
The commissioner of police, represented by the Assistant Commissioner of Police (Operations) ACP Olumide Kayode, made this assertion during a close-door meeting with the leadership of the school’s chapter of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) leaders at the police Headquarters in Osogbo led by its Secretary General, Momodu Daniel, a 300 Level Political Science student of Obafemi Awolowo University.
Kayode who claimed he was making his assertion from intelligence gatherings said, “Permit me to tell you that in the past two to three years now, we have (Osun Police) been having problems with Ife. It’s either a lecturer was beaten, a lady raped, car theft, ritual murder, robbery case handled, a cultist arrested or cyber crime case treated”.
But the students, in a statement by the Director of Information and Strategy of NANS, Sam Adegbola, said the allegations are false.
In a reaction credited to the NANS Secretary General, Daniel said, “OAU is arguably the most peaceful institution in the world and the university management does not condone any form of criminality or uncultured activities.”
According to him “raping of students is never a commonplace in OAU because this is a school where anybody can walk freely both during the day and even late at night. No student has ever complained of being disturbed by any cultist or cult group and moreover, no student has been reported missing”.
The Secretary General of NANS also stated that even with the rampant cases of cyber crime in Nigeria, OAU students could be exonerated, noting that those involved in the activities may be students of other schools within the Ife metropolis and not OAU students.
He said he was never aware of any OAU student being alleged for armed robbery, adding, “There is practically no room for such people in OAU that I know, probably they are students from other schools in Ife.”
“The OAU Security Department led by Mr. Paul Ogidi is on top of the job, they are always available; but I believe the absence of the Students Union has made their tasks burdensome” he said.
According to Daniel, the essence of the visit was to facilitate the reduction of friction between the students and the Nigerian Police, while also condemning the series of attacks on Nigerian students by police, decrying also, the killing of students, especially during protest.
Four students, it would be recalled, were shot by policemen at the University of Uyo which also informed the death of the five NANS leaders, including the Senate President of the body, Donald Onukaogu who died in a ghastly auto crash while on the way to the institution for a peace keeping mission.
Kayode, however, thanked the NANS leaders for sparing time out of their ever demanding official schedule to dialogue with the Osun State Police, noting also that that the police would do everything to prevent people from threats to the society.
On his conviction that some of the so-called criminals are OAU students, Kayode said, “We know that these are students of OAU because whenever we try to make any arrest, the suspects always run to OAU to seek for cover because they know they can be protected by students who would stop our men from arresting them.”
“We’ve had cases where your students (OAU) used their colleagues, usually female students, for money rituals and I’m sure you are not oblivious to this; some of your students are involved in the so-called yahoo plus but I believe the school security is trying its best but they can’t do it alone. The school still needs vigilantes to complement the efforts of the university’s security,” he said.
Kayode, however, rejected claims that Nigerian Police brutalizes students during protest. He said “Gone are those days. The Police are aware that the students need to fight for their right and we even try as much as possible to give our little support; the Police will never kill any innocent student because of protest. A thief is a thief; any student that is involved in armed robbery would be killed. That’s all!”
In a related development, the President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Yinka Gbadebo who once claimed that the Police were after his life has announced that the body is set to organize a national congress against rough treatment of students by the Nigerian Police.