Students of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun state, residing outside the campus of the university have been battling a high level of insecurity since late last year and the University’s management has reiterated several times that they will not involve in security issues that are not within the campus.
The recent trend of insecurity started when Adam and Eve, a hostel along Ibadan road was attacked in the wee hours of December 22, 2018.
The attack which led to the loss of a student of the university, Abiodun Babatola, has been followed by more than a dozen of attacks marked with loss of properties and extreme injuries carried out with cutlasses and machetes.
In an attack that occured in May, occupants of the hostel mostly students of the university were threatened with acid.
The May attack led to loss of over four phones and a significant amount of money. Series of attacks have also occurred in various hostels along Ibadan road.
Students’ properties that have been lost to these attacks aren’t known but it was confirmed that over 30 electronic devices have been carted away since the start of these attacks.
The school management is insisting that insecurity outside the campus is not within their jurisdiction.
Earlier in April when this correspondent contacted the university spokesperson, Mr. Abiodun Olanrewaju after a recent attack in Oduduwa estate – an area widely occupied by OAU students said, “Is Oduduwa estate on campus? If it’s not part of the campus, you can’t expect the school security to be there.”
Also recently, the Chief Security Officer of the university, Babatunde Oyatokun, stated in a short interview with a campus news agency that the school security team cannot interfere in security issues concerning OAU students outside the campus.
“Whatever happens outside the campus is outside my jurisdiction. It is purely for the external security agencies. So it’s the Area commander and other security agencies that are working outside the campus that can answer to that.”
Meanwhile, after the first robbery in December, Funsho Adegboye, Ile-Ife area commander, told the Students’ Union Action Committee of the university that the police can not secure all OAU students living outside the campus area unless the university authority consented to their proposal.
“Looking at the trend, from our quarters, we’ve written several proposals to the university authority to build more hostels on campus to ensure the security of students. Because from the statistics we have, there are over 33,000 students with only 9,000 students living inside campus while the remaining 25,000 students are scattered all over different axis in Ile-ife,” he stated.
He added, “Even if the whole police force in Ile-Ife is deployed, the number isn’t enough to guarantee the security of 25,000 students, especially considering the fact that students are dispersed all over the locations in Ile-ife.
“Some would be in Opa, some would be in Modakeke, and this makes it difficult. We have told the university authority that it is easier for us to secure a centralised people than people who are scattered all over.”
In a data analysis carried out by OAU Kilonshele, a campus news agency, it was discovered that over 72 percent of the university’s undergraduate do not live on campus.
The analysis which was published in 2018 after the university adopted a new accommodation policy which led to a significant decrease in the number of occupants residing on campus, revealed that 18,928 out of over 26,000 students reside outside the school premises.
Students have been urging the school management to build more hostels but the response has been “we can’t give what we don’t have,” meaning that the institution does not have funds to build more hostels.
The presence of the Federal Government Special Anti-Robbery Squad and State Security Service agents recently increased significantly.
However, the increase in armed security agents has piled up the problems as the FSARS agents are concentrating on students believed to be cybercriminals (Yahoo boys).
Since the beginning of June, more than seven hostels had been busted by the FSARS agents.
Speaking with victims and witnesses of the FSARS activities, it was gathered that the agents arrested some students without charge, only to free them after they had been extorted.
A 300-level student of the institution, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, revealed how the FSARS operations was carried out.
“The operation has been specific. They storm into a hostel and walk directly to the door of their target. They have the information of the people they want to arrest. They just arrest you and free you after you’ve fulfilled their demands,” the student explained.
When the Cheif Security Officer, Babatunde Oyatokun, was contacted, he claimed that he was not aware of the FSARS activities against the students of the university outside the campus.
“I don’t have information as regards the attack outside the campus but I have information that when there is any problem, I can invite the FSARS to come to our rescue. Other things, I don’t know,” he said.