By: Lord Whistledown
Several questions and debates have been left lingering and unattended to in the UI students’ community, over the years. Of these controversies, there is the question of uneven distribution of electricity to halls of residence in the University.
There is also the lingering debate on verbal harassment, the rights of female students of the University, and the ARO tradition – a “ritual” predominantly practiced by residents of the Nnamdi Azikwe and the Independence Halls of residence.
On Monday, 31st October 2022, these issues interplayed to trigger a chain of alleged cases of harassment and battery that involved Mr. Adewole Adeyinka (Mascot), the Student Union President, residents of the Great Independence hall, and the Queen Idia hall respectively.
WHAT DO WE KNOW?
After a series of investigations and interviews, here are the facts of the matter, reliably gathered by Indy Press:
- The Queen Idia and the Obafemi Awolowo halls of residence did not have power supply from Sunday evening through to Monday.
- As a result of the power outage, residents of the two female hostels, particularly Idiates, could not pump water in their halls.
- Starved of water, residents of the Queen Idia hall trooped in their numbers into the Independence Hall to fetch water in the evening hours of Monday
- An individual – unidentified – placed a call through to the Student Union President to report cases of verbal harassment on the residents of the Queen Idia Hall.
- The Students’ Union President called the Administrator General of Independence Hall about the case of ARO and verbal harassment.
- The Students’ Union President came to the Independence hall with an individual, who was identified as “Hall Warden”. He met “Isa Praise”, “Asaba” and “Samuel” on ground at C-block, and they intervened together on the matter on ground.
- The aftermath of the intervention was an uproar in Independence Hall, as a result of the alleged physical assault on Katangites.
- The Idia Hall of residence eventually powered the water tank pump with a generator on Monday Night.
- Indy Hall Warden was in the Hall, alongside Katangites and the Administrator General to quench the uproar caused by the alleged accusation.
- Mascot was invited to the hall, but his presence escalated the uproar. The Hall Warden of Independence Hall called the School security officers to escort the Students’ Union President out of the hall, due to the uproar in the attempt to reach a peaceful resolution.
WHO GETS JUSTICE: IDIATES ENDURED ‘ARO’, KATANGITES RECEIVED SLAPS, AND MORE SLAPS
In the middle of the commotion that resulted from the SU president’s visit to the hall, there were allegations of physical assault perpetrated by Mascot and his “bodyguards.”
The Indy Hall Administrator General, Mr. Adejumo Uthman (Wemmy), confirmed the allegation of the assault when our correspondent reached out to him. According to him, Katangites called him to report that they had been physically assaulted by Mascot and the people he came with. He appraised the physical assault to be a bad and unnecessary approach to the situation in question.
He stated that he instructed Katangites to back down and allow the Idia hall residents to fetch water from the Tank at the C block of the Hall. Adejumo Uthman vouched for the civility of Katangites throughout the debacle and expressed grave dissatisfaction at the action of the Student Union President.
In his account he said
“I noticed lots of girls in the Hall, when I moved towards the location, I noticed they were fetching water. I begged Katangites to leave the girls to fetch water and fetch from the tank at the A-block basement so that things won’t happen. Katamgites were only singing, no lady was physically or verbally assaulted as far as I am aware. I also warned them not to bang the railings because I would hand them over to the warden if they did. I instructed them not to do any abusive Arò, and I told the defense commissioner to station Marshals in different locations to prevent any form of harassment or abuse. I instructed them to hand over anybody that abuses or harasses the girls to security.
“After this, I left the hall to get drugs. I got a call before I got to the pharmacy from a Katangite that the SU president brought outsiders to beat them because they were singing “e ṣé oo, ẹ wá ma lọ.” I witnessed over an hour of the girls fetching water and everything was peaceful. I am sure Katangits are not animals, they listen to orders and they follow the rules and regulations of the hall and the University. I am so worried that the SU president can bring people to beat the Katangites. I have called the Hall Warden and he promised to reach the Dean of students.”
Indy Press was able to identify one of the Katangites that claimed to have been assaulted, Mr. Orekeyi Justice. In his account, he narrated how he was a victim of coincidence and how he got physically assaulted for no reason.
Justice stated that he did not physically see the Students’ Union President but he got assaulted by one of the people he came with. Justice does not identify the perpetrator but he described him as “hall warden” in a white shirt.
“I came out of my friend’s room, people were running and I was confused. I was trying to ask the people around me what was happening. I saw this guy and I even thought he was part of the people running. Immediately he came to where I was and he slapped me. I was in shock and I kept asking what was happening. I recognized our defense commissioner and when I asked him what was happening, he responded that I should go inside. Still confused, I turned to go back inside and this guy slapped me again on the back. I can recognize the person if I see him. I could not recognize him, but people said he is the ‘Hall warden’ in Zik. When I asked, people responded that it was the Mascot and his guys. I did not see Mascot’s face. I am taking the blow for something that happened and I did not know about.”
Meanwhile, the Students’ Union President denied physically assaulting anyone. According to him, all he did was speak to the AG to caution Katangites, and try to calm the situation. The President also claimed that he got tipped about the harassment of the ladies through a phone call from a number he could not identify.
He also claimed that he was alerted of the assault by different parties including males and females. He also said that the songs he heard hinted at catcalling and verbal harassment and that the songs were provocative and offensive to the ladies. He stated that the students refused to listen to him when he cautioned him and even cussed at him. In his words,
“When I left the hall to buy fuel for Idia, and I came back, I met the gate locked. When I asked about who closed the gate, I was informed that it was the Administrator General of the hall. He closed the gate when students were still with water on their heads and were trying to get to their respective hostels. He restricted Idiates from going back to their hall. I did not assault anyone physically. Katangites were booing me and abusing me when I came back to the hall to meet their hall warden including the Administrator General and the Former Administrator General. I saw the hall warden. When he informed the security officers to come to carry me, I saw him and I prostrated to him. No students came out to file any assault report against me. The only person that could have assaulted someone is the Katangites that followed him. Katangites wrongly accused me that I pushed their hall warden.”
We also reached out to the Idia Hall Chair, Miss Aishat Adeyemi, to confirm the reports of verbal assault against residents of her hall, and the root cause of the mass water fetching. The Idia hall chair stated that she and her executives were not contacted about any case of assault by the residents of Idia Hall.
She alluded to the power outage the previous day as the reason for water scarcity in the hall. According to her, the Dean of students and the “Chief of Maintenance” promised to sort out the power issue and ensure that the hall had light on Monday.
“I informed the Dean of Students about the water issue before I left for class in the morning. He promised that the Maintenance unit would fix it, so I left for class. I assumed that the light would be fixed so I did not pump it in the morning. When I was in Indy, I did not see anybody getting harassed. I heard Katangites singing, and I felt embarrassed that Idiates were fetching water. I even instructed them to stop because it was getting embarrassing. Nobody reached out to me about the harassment. I did not know about any harassment and I did not call the Student Union President. I thought that the crowd was getting too much and I did not get any report of the harassment, and I did not reach out to the Students Union President”
“HALL WARDEN” – NOBODY SLAPPED ANYBODY
Owoh Matthew, popularly known as “Hall Warden” – who claimed to be acting in the capacity of the Student Union Chief Security officer – corroborated the story of the Students Union President, and added that Idiates reached Mascot through Zainab, the Students Union vice president. When asked about the assault, he denied ever physically assaulting anybody. According to him “nobody slapped anybody”.
THE WAY FORWARD: MASCOT, WEMMY, MANAGEMENT
Several issues have been identified above, ranging from verbal harassment, physical assault, power issues, intra-university leadership dispute, and political conflict. In a bid to find the way out, Indy Press asked the Student Union President about a possible compromise and the solutions to the issues at hand.
The Students’ Union leader claimed that he had met with Indy’s Hall warden and the Dean of students to resolve the issue. He requested a public apology from the Independence hall executives for “false accusations”.
The Administrator General, on the other hand, stated that the Dean of Students Affairs, DSA, Prof. Keye Abiona, had reached out to them, instructing them to document their version of the story and send it to him. He further stated that the management would handle it from there and the hall would await the outcome.
“There is nothing that we can do but wait. We did not make any false accusations. We had no reason to lie” He said
When asked about why the second gate adjacent to Queen Idia Hall of residence was locked, he stated that it was to avoid further controversy and that it had been locked since the issue escalated. According to him, the Hall Warden stated that the gate would be opened after the issue has been resolved. He apologized for the inconvenience.
The DSA, on the other hand, commented on the issues. He stated that he was in contact with the Director of Works before, during, and after the Indy-Idia debacle on the power issue, and he assured that power would be restored on campus on November 1st. On the harassment/assault allegations, he specified that the University management is investigating the issue and asserted that no one is above the law.
In addition, the Deputy Dean of Students Affairs, Dr. Aiki-Raji emphasized that under no circumstance should any student be assaulted and that there is punishment for such.