The university accused the students, Cyprian Igwe and Olalekan Oladeru, of circulating a WhatsApp group message inviting other students for a meeting over the fee hike.
Igwe and Mr Oladeru, both officials of the Students’ Union Government, completed their final-year second-semester examinations in April 2023 and were currently awaiting their results to proceed with the mandatory National Youth Service Corps scheme.
A document obtained by Sunday PUNCH revealed that the school recently increased the tuition fees by about 50 per cent for the new session.
Following the hike, Igwe who is the SUG’s Director of Socials, in a WhatsApp message sighted by our correspondent, reportedly said, “Good evening house. We will be having a meeting tomorrow by 6:00 pm in regards to school fees, let’s know our way forward.
“I am deeply in pain, many students can’t pay, I hope the SUG President is in this group. I need everyone’s ideas. I’d rather risk my life, my admission than seeing thousands of students drop out. If the spirit of Aluta lives in us, it has to wake up. Please be part of this meeting” (sic).
Oladeru, who is the incumbent SUG Director of Sports, was alleged to have shared Igwe’s comment on the WhatsApp on his (Oladerin’s) WhatsApp status update.
Subsequently, the university, in a “rustication letter” sighted by our correspondent, dated May 26, 2023, and signed by the deputy registrar (academic) on behalf of the registrar, accused both Igwe and Oladeru, of circulating an “inciteful press release” capable of “jeopardising the peaceful and smooth conduct of academic activities in the university and a breach of the University Matriculation Oath”.
“By the powers conferred on the Vice Chancellor as contained in the University of Abuja Act, he on behalf of the Senate has directed your immediate rustication from the University. Accordingly you are banned from all University Campuses pending the determination of the case,” the letter added.
But following a public outcry over their rustication, the management of the institution, on Saturday alleged that Igwe and Oladeru were “suspended” and not “rusticated,” contrary to a letter issued to them.
The school’s Director of Public Affairs, Dr Habib Yakoob, said, “Two students were suspected to have issued and circulated a write-up purportedly in the name of the SUG President and Speaker (who has disowned the write-up promptly). This is impersonation/forgery.
“The content of the said write-up was quite inciting and capable of upsetting the peace and tranquil environment that the university has been known for. Preliminary investigations implicated the two, hence the decision to suspend them pending the full determination of the matter.
“Please, note that they weren’t suspended because they complained about an increment in fees.”
However, the students denied making inciteful comments against the school.
Igwe said, “We have concluded our final examinations, and are only awaiting our results. We know nothing about the purported inciteful message that the school management queried us about, and relied on to issue us rustication letters.
“The press release attributed to the SUG President and Speaker was posted by a certain number whose identity we do not know, and the school has refused to investigate the person behind the number.
“Instead, they interrogate all the SUG executives, and rusticated me and Oladeru without evidence to prove the allegations leveled against us.”
“I was surprised when the school invited us for interrogation. I couldn’t attend to the interrogators on Tuesday because I was away working to make ends meet, but when I showed up on Friday, I was grilled for over four hours,” Oladeru said.
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