THE Vice Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Professor Eyitayo Ogunbodede, on Monday, escaped being lynched in Ife community when some youths allegedly launched an attack on him and members of his entourage when he went on an inspection of the university’s land said to have been annexed by the community.
The Nigerian Tribune reports that one of the security men of the institution was hacked with a machete by the hoodlums who shot sporadically into the air to scare the university community members.
Also on the entourage of the vice chancellor were other members of the university’s management, the Chief Security Officer of the institution, the university’s Public Relations Officer, Mr Abiodun Olanrewaju and members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), among others.
Trouble started when the vice chancellor led the team to the land, but his intention to access the occupied part angered the already-charged Ife youths who ordered those inside the vehicles on the Vice Chancellor’s entourage to remain inside or be killed.
The armed youths who blocked the old Ife-Ede road where they waylaid the university officials on their way to the land located at Parakin area of the town, as they also displayed guns, charms, cutlasses, clubs, cudgels, broken bottles and others to demonstrate their seriousness to attack the university officials. Professor Ogunbodede condemned the development, which he described as inhuman.
The vice chancellor, however, maintained that the institution would not cede a parcel of its land to the community, just as he added that the institution would always ensure that peace reigns between the university and members of the community.
He said: “I don’t want to lose any of our students. We are short of accommodation for our students but it’s not worth the lives of our students. “You can see that it was only God who saved us today. You can see the shootings and all sort of things, but we thank God that we all survived it.
“We will try as much as possible to continue to maintain peace because the university cannot continue to exist without the community. We will try as much as possible to continue to reach perfect understanding with the community. We have been doing it. We have succeeded over the years and we will continue to do it. ‘You can see that we are in a very serious situation as far as OAU land is concerned.
“We have reached out to the Federal Government and it has given us a marching order. The Federal Government is not interested in ceding an inch of the university land to anybody.
“The Federal Government has also given us substantial amount of money to start the fencing. They are conscious of the fact that we have a council for the university.
“The council is also conscious of the fact that we have maintained cordial relationship with the community and we will continue to maintain that relationship, but not at the expense of the university land.
“We are not going to allow people occupy the gazetted land without approval from the Federal Government.
“If the Federal Government decides to reverse it, no problem; but as far as that is still standing, it is going to be difficult for anybody to just cede out of the university land.
“The Ooni of Ife is aware and he has given us his words that he’s trying to ensure that sanity prevails and we will all live in peace.”
Reacting to the development, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, speaking through his Director of Media, Mr Moses Olafare, charged the management of the institution to investigate the incident, adding that the palace would also look into the matter.