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Why Bowen University remains closed

Bowen University

-Parents protest expulsion of students over March 19 riot

Students protesting

Students protesting

Over three weeks after the closure of Bowen University at Iwo in Osun State, following students’ riot, the school is still under lock. Contrary to the statement of the vice chancellor that the final year students will resume on April 1, 2014, while other students will resume on Monday, April 14, 2014, we learnt the students are still at home with no hope of resuming this month. Information available to ENCOMIUM Weekly revealed that this is not unconnected to the fact that parents are at loggerheads with the school management over their decision to expel the students affected in the mayhem. Rather, they petitioned them to look critically into the root cause of the March 19, 2014 riot.

A student who spoke under the condition of anonymity revealed to us that they were shocked that the school authority has not beckoned on them till now.

“The press release from the school was that we would resume on Monday, April 14, 2014, but they have not contacted us nor issue any statement. Even the final year students are yet to resume too.”

Few days after the clash between the students and the management which left over N50 million property vandalised, about 50 students were pencilled down for probe. Information available to ENCOMIUM Weekly revealed that a panel of enquiry was set up on Wednesday, March 25, 2014, to probe the students and adequate punishment meted out on them. Although the list was not made available to us, we learnt they are majorly from the John Hall hostel where the incident emanated from. According to our source, they might be dismissed or suspended according to the level of their involvement.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Matthew Ojo, stated on Wednesday, March 25, 2014, that the panel, which would include two representatives of the students, would be headed by the Dean of Science, Prof. Samuel Ilori Ojo.  He debunked the speculation in some quarters that increase in school fees caused the riot, said the pre-degree and final year students would resume on April 1, while 100 level students would resume on April 8. He added that 200 and 300 level students would resume on April 14.

The vice chancellor said students accused of taking part in the riot would be given opportunity to defend themselves before the panel.

He said the inability of some students to watch the European Champions League match due to power outage in a section of the male hostel prompted some students to mobilise others to protest.

According to Ojo, the management has been spending huge money to fuel the diesel generator to provide electricity to the campus.

He stated that the protest, which started at 8pm on Wednesday night, was brought under control around 10.30pm, adding that some students continued the protest the following day when they found out that some students who looted shops had been arrested by the police.

The VC noted that power supply to Iwo town had been irregular since the rainstorm of March 12, saying the university had been supplying electricity through generator and it had sunk 29 boreholes to supply water to the campus.

He said, “The management has set up a panel of enquiry to investigate the crisis. Although there are enough rules in the student information handbook to take care of the situation, we do not want to act under emotion.

“Any student accused of any wrong doing in connection with the disturbance will be given opportunity to defend himself or herself for justice to take its course.

“We appreciate the understanding of the parents of our students. We also assure them that the safety and security of their children is paramount in our agenda and we will not fail them. The university’s commitment to academic excellence and godliness in character will continue to be upheld.”

Properties worth N50 million were damaged during the faceoff between students and the school management on Wednesday, March 19, 2014. The students protested against power outage and lack of water supply in one of the new hostels in the school and increase in tuition fees.

No fewer than 20 vehicles were damaged by the students as they razed down buildings, smashed cars and caused mayhem all over the university campus.

Information available to ENCOMIUM Weekly revealed that due to the parents’ intervention, the 50 students billed to face the disciplinary committee few days back were yet to be contacted. We learnt that the probe has been suspended pending the time they will resolve the issue with the parents association. Thus, no fixed period has been confirmed yet.

–  FEMI OYEWALE

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