Rumble at Ajayi Crowther University
Management dismisses story of alleged ‘crisis,’ says due process was followed in expulsion of students
Authorities of Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, Oyo State, have written to debunk what they describe as some misinformation contained in the series of stories carried on the expulsion of its students allegedly caught with narcotics, an offence punishable by expulsion, going by its students handbook.
It will be recalled that in the published stories, some of the parents of the expelled students protested not only the innocence of their wards but also contended what they see as “miscarriage of justice” in the authorities’ alleged failure to follow the university’s laid-down rules in the students’ handbook on such matters.
Both the parents and expelled students are also protesting the alleged failure of the university to formally communicate them on the expulsion. But in a statement sent to The Sun and signed by the university’s Senior Assistant Registrar (Public Relations), Mr. Alvan Ewuzie, the university dismissed as “contrived” the stories told by the students and their parents even as it protested the title, ‘Crisis rocks Ajayi Crowther University…As expelled students protest innocence,’ given to the story.
“There is a seeming orchestrated campaign by recalcitrant students who have been punished in line with laid-down rules of the university, to resort to such contrived stories to arm-twist the University to reverse a decision duly taken by Senate, ratified and approved by the Governing Council, headed by no less a legal luminary than Chief Wole Olanipekun [SAN]”, the statement read.
“The point must be made that no form of crisis, whatsoever, is rocking the university. The truth is, the campus is calm and serene as students have gone on vacation and results of final year ones have been compiled, in readiness for the up-coming convocation. On that score, the headline of the story was patently erroneous.”
Faulting of alleged procedural error
In the statement, Ewuzie also dismissed as untrue the students’ allegations that investigations were not properly carried out before the punishment of expulsion was handed down to them. “During the interrogation, I was surprised that they wrote an allegation that I was caught smoking Indian hemp,” Tosin Aiyemoniafe, 300 level student of the Department of Business Administration, and one of the affected students recounted in the published story. “I was asked to defend the allegation. I simply told them that I have never smoked even cigarette in my life and I was asked to go.”
He faulted the order of expulsion followed by the university authorities noting that the usual procedure in such circumstances, is that, “when a student is caught doing such things, a picture of such student is taken, security officers are called in, he or she would be made to write a statement and the remnants of whatever he or she is smoking would be obtained as evidence; after that he would be asked to complete a misconduct form.” But he added that in his case, none of these procedures was followed.
“I was wrongly accused by one of the porters assigned to the hall, of smoking Indian hemp in the school premises, and I can confidently walk up to him to confirm my innocence of this false allegation,” another expelled student, Olanrewaju Segilola said. “On the day I was reported to have smoked Indian hemp, I just woke up and went to wash my face in the hall’s bathroom, and this porter walked past me. He cannot say he saw me smoking or in possession of Indian hemp. I was therefore surprised when I was accused of smoking Indian hemp when I had only gone about my business of washing and cleaning my face. He never caught me with Indian hemp, and this information can be confirmed from him by the University Board.”
Varsity’s side of the story
But the university insists that the students’ accounts are anything but reflection of facts. “In line with the University’s zero tolerance for violation of its rules and regulations, in this case, abuse of hard drugs, some students were accosted and interrogated; exhibits were found on them and they were made to write statements and subsequently arraigned before the Students’ disciplinary committee,” Ewuzie wrote.
“The Committee was headed by a seasoned Professor, who was former Deputy Vice Chancellor, not the Vice Chancellor, as you were wrongly fed. It was comprised of deans of faculties, heads of departments, representatives of students’ affairs as well as representatives of the student’s association. The affected students were duly tried and punishment was recommended. The composition of that committee is the major due process and the university did not violate it as portrayed by your story.”
Of responses to letters of appeal
In the published story, the parents had also alleged about receiving no replies on the letters of appeals and explanations they sent to the university authorities. For instance, Chief Olu Shadrack Aiyemoniafe, Tosin’s father who said he was distraught when he learnt about his only son’s expulsion told Campus Sun that he got a lawyer to write the university authorities asking them to temper justice with mercy after he had conducted tests on his ward in both private and public hospitals to find out whether there’s any trace of narcotics in his blood stream and the tests all came out negative, but he allegedly received no response.
Mr. and Mrs. Segilola, parents of Olanrewaju, also expelled from the university, told Campus Sun that they also wrote a letter to the VC to complain about the manner in which their son was expelled without the university informing them about the development.
“Ajayi Crowther is a Christian missionary school, and even if these allegations were true, we would expect the school authorities to put the students to caution, or rehabilitation, inform the parents about this situation before expelling them from school,” the father argued in the letter. “I trust this is not the way you wish to manage the school business and activities nor the kind of letter you wish to receive from parents.”
But in its reaction, the university dismissed as untrue the parents’ allegations that deaf ear was paid to their letters of appeal to the Registrar, the Vice Chancellor and the Governing Council.
“It is not true that the university did not give ear to an appeal by the affected students because a committee of council, headed by a retired Judge, sat to deliberate on their appeal but the Governing Council upheld the recommended punishments,” Ewuzie observed before addding that, “the university had, in the past, suffered the backlash from the behaviour of recalcitrant students who were expelled from other universities but admitted here on transfer. These peddlers of lies did not tell you that some of them who had been expelled for abusing substance where recalled by the Vice Chancellor, Rt. Rev. Prof. Dapo Asaju, given his disposition as a man who wears the dual cap of academic and Bishop in the Anglican Communion.
“He organized spiritual programmes for these students, to extricate them from the clutch of the apparent addiction. He took them for rehabilitation outside the campus. They were also taken to the neuro-psychiatric hospital in Abeokuta, and made to see the damages such substance had done in the lives of people. But the camel’s back was broken when some of them who went through the seeming rehabilitation process, repeated the same offence and attempted to influence innocent ones.”
Ewuzie ended the press statement on a note of resolve and appeal. “The university has left that ugly past behind and no amount of blackmail, including such erroneous publications, will open that closed chapter. Parents whose children were caught in this act should rehabilitate them and desist from this fruitless press war. No student has been unjustly victimized. Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, would not succumb to the obvious attempt to blackmail it to lower its lofty disciplinary standards. We appeal to the respected Sun newspaper, and indeed, other media houses, not to collaborate with enemies of the university to tarnish our hard-earned good image.”