The Management of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), has backed the decision of University Senate, which held an emergency meeting recently, and approved Monday, October 3, 2016, as the resumption date for normal academic activities. The students, who have been on mid-semester break, are now to resume after the consideration of the report submitted by the committee that was set up to look into the students’ unrest, as the Senate has also given its nod to the facilitation of the establishment of a Police Station in the communities opposite the University Campus.
Additionally, the University has approved that aside the usual security measures that had been put in place, FUNAAB and police patrol vehicles would now be stationed at a strategic location, from 6pm to 6am daily, to quickly attend to any distress call, while the internal security team, in collaboration with the Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) in the Odeda and Obantoko areas of Abeokuta, Ogun State, would continue to take turns, on a daily basis, to patrol the University environs, especially at night.
The University, through the Police Community Relations’ Committee (PCRC), is working at ensuring that hostel owners provide at least, four security personnel for each hotel, who are to work in conjunction with the security officers stationed at the strategic location. Failure to abide by this arrangement would make the University to blacklist erring hostels, while students would be advised against patronising such hostels in their own interest.
The University Management has, again, encouraged the various communities to embrace community policing, vigilante services and support the efforts of both the Nigeria Police Force and the Department of State Services (DSS), while students have also been enjoined to take security matters more seriously and avoid attracting unnecessary attention to themselves, by always being alert, vigilant about happenings in their surroundings and be swift in contacting the University’s Chief Security Officer (CSO), in case they notice any strange movement or occurrence around their vicinity.
Management’s effort at providing more hostel accommodation through the Federal Government, is being given top priority within the available resources. FUNAAB would continue to appeal to well-meaning Nigerians to come to the aid of the University, even as the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), through its Special Intervention Fund and private organisations, are building additional hotels within the University, which are currently at various stages of completion.
Additionally, the University Management has directed that all lectures should not exceed 6pmdaily, to allow students get to their homes before dusk, while the internal shuttle services are always available to convey students, who reside outside the campus, close to their destinations. For emergencies, the University’s Chief Security Officer could be contacted on the mobile number: 08081779023.
Meanwhile, the University Management has approved the payment of the sum of Five Thousand Naira (N5,000.00) only, inclusive of REMITA charges per student, as reparation fee, while it also approved the payment of claims to claimants arising from the damages suffered, as a result of the students’ unrest. Payment of the reparation fee is to include postgraduate students, those on Industrial Training (IT) and the Farm Practical Year (FPY). The decision became necessary to enable the University fulfill its financial obligations that arose from the actions of its students during the recent unrest, in which private and public property worth of millions of naira were destroyed. Deadline for compliance is Tuesday, October 4, 2016.
Since it is practically impossible to determine the real students that either participated or did not take part in the action, that warranted the payment of damages, the reparation fee, as well as the presentation of a letter of undertaking to be of good conduct and a sworn affidavit from the Court of law, is to serve as a deterrent against any future occurrence, while the rest of the funds would be used to enhance security facilities for the entire University community, over a period of time. To ensure transparency and accountability, the University Management would not be involved in the disbursement of the funds, as a special committee had been constituted, that would ensure that the reparation fee is judiciously utilised, while the amount to be paid to each claimant would depend on the degree of loss suffered.
Already, the students have been given adequate time to pay up the reparation fee and are very eager to resume, as the President of the Students’ Union, Comrade Dennis Nwenonye, in his recent release, disclosed that the FUNAAB Students' Union had "no objection to the reparation fee”. Students are, therefore, enjoined to comply with the conditions for resumption within the time-frame, which is adequate for necessary preparation.
Furthermore, to ensure that due process was followed in the entire exercise, members of the general public were properly notified and given adequate time to submit their claims, as the 'Call for Memoranda' was widely communicated through the electronic and print media. Specifically, it was publicised on the state and federal radio stations, national newspapers and social media platforms. Also, the investigative committee that was set up on the students’ unrest had thirteen sittings, interacted with about eighty stakeholders during the period, between 9am and 8pm, daily. A dedicated e-mail for submission of memoranda was also opened, while a specific phone line and handbills were used for effective correspondence.
In a related development, the Church Governing Council of Divine Heights Bible Church, Abeokuta, Ogun State, has disclosed that it had decided to forgive the erring students of the University that attacked the church, by not accepting any money for the damages caused, but rather, owners of personal vehicles burnt within the church premises, should be settled.