President Goodluck Jonathan’s visit to Obafemi Awolowo University, Friday, has sparked a bloody cult war in the school, with at least two students hospitalized.
Fighting broke out between members of the Students Union Government’s leadership, who support the president, and other students who organized a humiliating anti-government protest during Mr. Jonathan’s visit Friday.
Two students sustained serious injuries after a cult group, allegedly supporting the student leadership, attacked a gathering of other students, the SUG Congress, the legislative arm of the student body, said.
“They accused the gathering of embarrassing the president in his last visit to the school,” the Congress said in an open letter.
Mr. Jonathan was at the school alongside the Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, for the Yoruba Unity Summit, organized by the Committee for Yoruba Unity, where he was endorsed for re-election in 2015.
The meeting was also attended by the Ooni of Ife, Okunade Sijuade, among other traditional rulers.
While the president was there, several students marched in protest of new school fees announced by some federal universities, and generally, in condemnation of the state of education in the country.
The students were also miffed that after waiting at the gates to lay their complaints directly to the president, they only realized he had been transported by helicopter into the institution, students, said.
“We all did not know when he entered the hall, it was at that point student started protesting, after the meeting he came out, and we tried to talk to him but his security details would not let us talk to him, they escorted him into his car and they drove him to his chopper where he then flew,” one student, who asked not to be named, said.
He said students began to throw stones as the chopper was taking off, and also jeered the Ekiti governor, Mr. Fayose.
The first indication of divisions within the ranks of the students’ body, SUG, came when its leadership issued a statement late Friday denying media reports of the student demonstration.
In the statement, the SUG president, Isaac Ibikunle, denied any protests took place and pledged the loyalty of the students to President Jonathan.
But students said by weekend, clashes broke out in the school campuses as supporters and guards of Mr. Ibikunle allegedly launched attacks on other leaders and students who staged the protests.
Israel Onifade, a student of the institution, said that at the late hours of Sunday, while other leaders of the student body were having a meeting, they were attacked by “unknown students”.
But the open letter issued by the Students Congress said the attacks were sponsored and spearheaded by the incumbent Students Union leadership.
“It saw the physical participation of the Students Union PRO in person of Bamidele Oludare, the Union’s Fin Sec, Comrade Oye, members of the Security Committee of the Students’ Union; Teddy, Akuma, Ayinla, amongst others,” the congress said.
“Two of the attacked Students are still receiving treatments. Sammy being slashed near the forehead, receiving treatment at the Health Centre OAU, another called David (davoo), after being rejected at the Health Centre was rushed down to the Seventh Day Adventist hospital where he still lay, up till the time of writing this report.”
The student congress said some of the attackers were arrested after students mobilized, and investigations proved the attack was launched as reprisal for the treatment of President Jonathan on Friday.
“But due to the eventual mobilization of students which went through from Awo Hall, two of these cultists (non-students) were captured alongside the Fin Sec of the Union, Comrade Oye, as well as Teddy, one who is already well known as a personal bodyguard to the Union President, Mr. Ibikunle Isaac.
“Upon the preponderance of investigation, it was realized that the attack came as a pay-back to the students who were believed (by the attackers, the Union leadership) to have mobilized on Friday 28th of November in launching that massive protest against the visiting President of the nation Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan,” the congress said.
The student congress said it was demanding the SUG president to call a congress of all students within 24 hours, and to answer all of the charges against him.
The violent attack was the first in the school since 1999 when several students were killed in deadly cult clashes.