Fuoye: Falsely accused students seek justice

September 12, 2019

• Demand N50,000 compensation each, clearance
• No room for compensation, says mgt.
• Police: Investigation ongoing

A student of the Federal University of Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE), Eze Christopher, and his friend, Daramola Olamidotun, an ex-student of the university, are demanding justice for being falsely accused of sending a threat message to one of their teachers. The duo had been arraigned in court before the police eventually arrested the prime suspect, who is a female student of FUOYE. AJALA SAMUEL OLALEKAN, 300-Level History and International Studies and AYOBAMI OLU-TAIWO, 300-Level English and Literary Studies of FUOYE report:

Two members of the Federal University of Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE) are crying for justice over what they described as an ‘injustice’ done to them by the management of the university.

The duo, Eze Christopher, a 200-Level Criminology and Security Studies undergraduate, and his friend Daramola Olamidotun, a former student of the institution, are demanding  financial compensation to the tune of N50,000 each as expenses  incurred to sort out their bail. Besides, they  are  urging the management of FUOYE to direct the stoppage of the litigation, which has been adjourned to September 30.

Similarly, the National Union of Nigerian Students (NANS) has waded into the matter, calling for justice for their colleagues.

However, the management said it would not pay compensation as it did not prompt their arrest.

Last month, Christopher and Daramola were arraigned in court for allegedly sending a threat message to the Head of the Department of Criminology and Security Studies, Dr Chiedu Abrifor.

Although the police has since tracked and arrested the culprit, who is currently under investigation, that was not until the two initial suspects had appeared in court, pleading not guilty before being granted bail.

The Beginning

CAMPUSLIFE investigation showed that the Ekiti State Police Command where the matter was initially lodged, tracked the number of the message sender to one Faleti Mujibat Temitope, a 200-Level student of Peace and Conflict Studies in the institution.

Upon being invited for questioning, Temitope shocked the police by showing them the same threat message she received from an unknown number the same day Abrifor received his.  Upon further enquiry on who she suspected, Temitope mentioned Christopher, her former friend, with whom their affair ended on a sour note.

Although Daramola was once a 100-Level student of the same department before crashing out due to financial constraints, his involvement may not be unconnected with how he and Christopher led their colleagues on a rebellion against Abrifor over a departmental wear.

Row over departmental wear

CAMPUSLIFE gathered that all departments have a peculiar wear which all students must put on every Monday. As it is the tradition in FUOYE, students’ departmental association usually handles the departmental wear. When the Department of Criminology was established a few years ago, the students’ association was not formed immediately, so Dr. Abrifor took up the responsibility of producing the departmental wear. When the students’ association was eventually established earlier in the year, Abrifor relinquished the fund in his custody for the association to produce the uniform. Unfortunately, the students’ body could only do a handful which did not go round despite that majority of the students paid N2,500 each for the uniform.

Abrifor would have none of it as he slammed N200 fine on students who refused to wear the mandatory wear every Monday. Abrifor’s action appeared to have irked many of the students, who felt their HoD was merely punishing them for an offence they were not culpable.

It was after this that the aggrieved students decided to give Abrifor a cold shoulder.

“He (Abrifor) forcefully collected this amount (N200) every Monday from 100 and 200 level students who were in casual dress. After a while, the students got tired and discussed the matter on their whatssap group. Majority of the students then agreed that none of them should put on the wear the following Monday. So, the following week, most of us flouted the directive, save a few others that did not have whatsapp access phone,” Daramola recalled while trying to prove his innocence.

On his part, Christopher said he never knew his offence until he was confronted at the police station that a female course mate mentioned him as a suspect.

“I did not know what led to my arrest until the IPO (investigating police officer) told me it was a threat case; and that I was threatening my HoD and a lady  (Temitope) which I did not do,” Christopher began.

Going down memory lane, Christopher recalled how Temitope once called him while with her parents in Lagos, drawing his attention to a threat message she received from an unidentified number.

Christopher continued: “I asked her if she would come to school and make a report at the police station in Lagos. Later, we both chose the option of her reporting the matter to the police as soon as she got to school.

“On  August 7, I was at  home when I noticed the presence of armed men in the front of my room. This has never happened before because it is unusual to see my friends knocking on my door before coming in. I initially escaped, but later appeared at the police station the following day because everyone in my room was arrested the previous day.

“It was at the station I discovered that I have been named a suspect by two people, my lecturer and a friend. I was locked up that day with my friend (Daramola) and released on bail the third day.”

Why they were singled out

Christopher and Daramola’s ‘toxic’ contributions on the departmental’ whattssup group chat, seemed to have been the nemesis that eventually returned to haunt them, CAMPUSLIFE learned.

During the protest against the departmental wear, Christopher was accused of being the ringleader, an allegation he denied outright. Dotun on the other hand was arrested based on some utterances and voice recordings he sent to the group chat.

Dependable sources informed CAMPUSLIFE that there are certain fifth columnists who spy on individual’s information on the group chat and relay same to Dr. Abrifor.  Incidentally, Abrifor had access to various messages and voice recordings sent to the group chat during deliberations over the departmental wear and contributions from Christopher and Daramola appeared most noticeable and vehement.

Interestingly, Temitope who roped in Christopher has suddenly remained taciturn following the arrest of the prime suspect. When CAMPUSLIFE reached out to her, Temitope declined comments, saying she has been ‘instructed’ not to speak further on the issue.

“I cannot say anything because the security had earlier warned me not to,” Temitope said.

Suspects arraigned in court

The first court proceeding was held on August 19, and adjourned to 30th of this month. Both were granted bail in the sum of N100,000 with two sureties.

NANS demands justice

Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has waded into the matter, demanding that the two students charged to court be compensated and all expenses they incurred in the course of perfecting their bail be refunded.”

A statement titled: “Defamation and harassment of Nigerian students in FUOYE”, and signed by vice chairman of NANS Ekiti, Comrade Raji Sobur, demanded transparency across board on the matter. Sobur also asked both the police and management of FUOYE to formally apologise to the students for defaming their character.

The students’ body equally chided the police for jumping to conclusion by stampeding the suspects into court when it was yet to perfect its investigation.

NANS said: “As it was reported, those students were charged to court as suspects without any evidence linking them to the allegation. Meanwhile, at the court, the investigating police officer (IPO) confessed that they are yet to unravel those who perpetrated the evil.

“The question is: ‘Why were the students charged to court without establishment of fact? This clearly shows the manner management has perfected to victimise our members.”

HoD: The students are innocent.

Dr. Abrifor has since declared the students innocent. Abrifor equally denied ever taking the suspects to court.

He said: “The issue started when I received a threat message from an unknown number and I immediately forwarded the message to the CSO (chief security officer of FUOYE), Director of Administration (of FUOYE) and my wife.

“The CSO then asked me to write a memo to the vice-chancellor which I did on Saturday, August 24 because the incident happened the previous day. After reporting to the vice chancellor, I was advised to report to the police.

“Even in my report to the VC, I didn’t mention anybody’s name. I did not intend to unduly indict anybody.

“I then lodged my complaints at the police station. After writing my statement, the DPO enquired from me if I suspected anybody, but I said no’’.

He said the police then tracked the number of the sender and from there discovered that that number had a link with Temitope.

Abrifor continued: “I now assumed since both numbers linked each other, that means the caller and the receiver were both familiar.

“So the university invited Temitope to the Security Unit for preliminary investigation. There, they discovered that the student also received same threat message the same day I received my message.

“So from there it became confusing.  I wasn’t even there when (police) interrogated Christopher and Daramola, only for them to inform me that Temitope indicted Christopher. I then wondered if both Chris and Temitope ever had an argument before.  The police also asked me if I had issues with Christopher but I said no. I told the police that from what I knew about Christopher, he was just a boy exhibiting youthful exuberance, that  I had repeatedly called and advised him that he is in FUOYE to study and not to cause problems.  That was all.

“So on Thursday when the police was to arraign them in court, something came to my mind. At the time, the number that we initially tracked was no longer trackable and as an experienced person in security matters, I strongly suspected that the sender had removed and destroyed the sim card.

“I now said, but we can still track the IMEI (international mobile equipment identity) of the phone because it’s easy for an individual to use a phone and SIM card and throw the sim card away and continue to use the phone

“In fact, I did not want those guys to suffer for what they did not do. That was how I tracked the IMEI number, because I was interested in getting to the root of the matter

“How can I pick students up without notifying the school or students? But to my surprise, some people started calling me names, that I sued the students to court. Of course, I know I followed the right channel I communicated to the university and the university asked me to report to the police and the police began their investigation.

“I’m happy that the police have gotten the number using the phone and they have arrested the culprit .To my surprise, nobody is even talking about the threat message sent to me. My family is in disarray.

“We are walking with fear in my house. Nobody is even bringing that up.

“The investigation didn’t point to the two students. I don’t know why they took them to court .You know normal police case of litigation, just to present them to the court.

“The culprit is now with the Commissioner of Police in Ado-Ekiti. The police are aware that those students are not involved. Those students are innocent.”

Investigation on course, says Police

Police Public Relations Officer,  Ekiti State Police Command, Caleb Ikechukwu, declined comments on the matter. According to Ikechukwu, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, investigation is still on course. He added that details would be made public as soon as police wrap up investigations.

No compensation for victims, says mgt

Chief Security Officer of FUOYE Paul Ogidi, said the two victims could approach the police and not management, should they feel they deserve compensation.

Ogidi said Abrifor has the right to approach the police in order to safeguard his life and that of his family.

The security chief said as a rule, issues bordering on criminal matters are within the purview of the police and not FUOYE management.

“When there are criminal cases such as kidnapping, cultism, robbery threat to life, among others on campus, we refer the matter to the police.

“I remember this matter (threat message) was reported to the management in writing by Dr Abrifor, and a copy was sent to me so that I can monitor the situation. At the time, Dr Abrifor opted to personally report the matter to the police, which was normal because of his own security; the university only followed up to ensure the right thing was done.

“The police then commenced investigation, made some arrest; and because police cannot detain suspects beyond 24 hours, they charged the matter to court. Now that the prime suspect has been arrested, it is only the police that can clear them and also pay them compensation, if need be.”

Nonetheless, Ogidi expressed the willingness of the institution to work with the police to terminate the matter in court thereby removing the negative tags on the students.

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