The Action Committee of the Students’ Union of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to probe the institution’s management for financial misconduct and tax evasion.
The Students’ Union made the call in an open letter to the three agencies. Jointly signed by Messrs. Oloniniran Gbenga and Oyedeji S.I, Chairman and Secretary respectively, the letter stated that the misconduct of the university administration, headed by Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, has resulted in the disruption of academic activities and deteriorating welfare conditions on campus.
According to the students’ body, the university secretariat has been sealed by the Osun State Internal Revenue Service (OSIRS) since 2 May over a tax debt of N1.8 billion. The students’ body recalled that the university was dragged to court by the OSIRS over the tax debt, which dates back to 2015.
This, it said, was later resolved after the allowances were separated from taxes, leaving the tax debt at N500million. The university, according to the students’ body, agreed to liquidate the liability within one year in a Memorandum of Understanding it signed during the Vice Chancellorship of Professor Bamitale Omole.
It noted, however, that the agreement has been breached, the result of which is the sealing off of the university’s Senate Building.
As a result of the shutdown, administrative functions in the university have been paralyzed. “Many of the non-academic staff and security operatives working at the Senate Building have no access to their offices.
“They now resume outside, where they stay under the sun.
“This development threatens to disrupt the university’s academic calendar.
“Currently, the non-academic staff are on the verge of suspending activities pending the resolution of the crises between the university and the state government.
“This action will further affect academic activities,” the students said.
The students alleged that taxes have always been deducted from salaries of university staff, but never remitted. They equally alleged that the university management has failed to account for over N17.5 million paid for identity cards by over 35,000 students for the 2016/2017 academic session.
“The university administration failed to issue identity cards to students.
“This exposed many students to assault and harassment from policemen, which has resulted in the detention of many students by the Police over an inability to properly identify themselves as students of the university.
“Many students have also missed scholarship and job opportunities for this reason,” claimed the students.
They similarly claimed that over N14million is paid every session as development levy by fresh students, with each paying N18,000. But the payment of this fee, said the student, does not reflect on the learning and welfare conditions on campus.
“The laboratories have been ill-equipped for years; the library and lecture theatres dilapidated and outdated; deteriorating hostel and health facilities.
“These are the obtainable conditions of Obafemi Awolowo University.
“Till now, the postgraduate students pay N7,000 as health centre due upon admission, yet they are required to pay N5000 as registration fee to use the health centre, something the university management has failed to explain why it is charged,” they said.
In addition, the students alleged that funds paid to the university yearly from the Federal Government’s Tertiary Health Insurance Scheme, the university still charges each students N1, 800 as health fee, which amounts to N63 million per session.
The university, they added, is currently constructing a new Senate Building with funds from World Bank disbursed through Central Bank of Nigeria.
“These funds were meant to be used for construction of students' hostels and provision of academic facilities. With the former senate building having vast unoccupied office spaces, the university has diverted funds to build a new senate building while students live like prisoners in the wretched hostels.
“About N60 million has been expended on this new project, but the structure has barely gone beyond the foundation and almost abandoned,” claimed the students’ body.
Another allegation brought against the university authorities is that they chase students away from on campus hostels, forcing them to seek accommodation in off-campus hostels built by the university officials.
The students lamented that their efforts to challenge the corruption in the university system have been met with iron hand. The Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede-led university administration, they alleged, breached the rights of students to independent unionism, freedom of expression and association by suspending student activists, causing them to be arrested and detained in prison custody.
“As a union, we call on the EFCC, ICPC, FIRS and other relevant government agencies to swing into action and immediately probe the administration of Obafemi Awolowo University over the aforementioned mismanagement of public funds and corrupt dealings.
“The university must make the institution's account public for all to see, being a public property.
“We urge the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to extend its anti-corruption campaign to Obafemi Awolowo University, where the President is a visitor,” said the students.