The Federal Polytechnic, Ede in Osun State, on Tuesday, announced the closure of the school premises with immediate effect. According to an internal memorandum signed by the Registrar, O.A Ogunleye, the decision was made after a meeting of the academic board held the same day.
The memo reads, “The Academic board at its 202 regular meeting held on Tuesday 10thSeptember, 2019, directed that the students should proceed on mid second semester break…”
The memo equally stated that the school will be reopened on Wednesday, September 25.
The sudden closure of the school is believed to be as a result of the protest by the students of the polytechnic over a plan to rusticate the Students’ Union President, Lukman Rufai.
It was learnt that the union leader is currently facing a panel for allegedly harassing a lecturer and being disrespectful ‘to constituted authorities’.
On July 29, Mr Rufai ordered the deflation of the tyres of a car belonging to a lecturer identified as Francis Adeoye, claiming he violated a ‘No Parking’ order.
According to him, the order was placed to stop the cases of recurrent accidents that have happened on that road.
It was gathered that the chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics in the school, Nurudeen Masopa, intervened but the student leader maintained that anybody’s car, irrespective of the cadre, will be deflated if the order was violated.
The issue was reported to the polytechnic authorities who reportedly found the act disrespectful.
Mr Rufai was summoned by an ad-hoc committee set up to investigate the case.
The panel recommended that a warning be issued to both Messrs Rufai and Masopa and that was communicated in a letter dated August 22. Mr Rufai was then warned to desist from disrespectful acts.
However, the decision was reportedly not acceptable to ASUP, “who saw the pardon as a slap on the face of its member”. The union threatened to withdraw her services from the polytechnic if Mr Rufai did not appear before the statutory committee saddled with the responsibility of hearing such cases.
The statutory committee’s report was expected to be read on Tuesday before a protest broke out.
Meanwhile, a video obtained by this newspaper showed that the students, who assembled in their numbers on Tuesday, were ready to protest a ‘planned’ rustication of Mr Rufai by the panel.
Some students who spoke with this newspaper on the condition of anonymity pitched their tent with their president saying he was being victimised.
When contacted on Tuesday evening, Mr Rufai said “the lecturers’ union wanted to intimidate him because of his moves to curb sexual harassment against female students by lecturers”.
He insisted that the rift was a baseless premise for his sanction after the first committee has given a report and he was served a warning letter.
ASUP chairman, Mr Masopa on the other hand said that Rufau was being supported by the school management and alleged that the Rector is his financier.
He noted the union never demanded the students union officer’s rustication as it is ready to comply with the outcome of the investigation by the Students Disciplinary Committee.
“If they are saying we demanded for a punishment, tell them to show you a document that suggests that. We have never stated it in any of our letters,” he said.
“We have decided to withdraw our services because we don’t feel safe in this environment.”
He added that it would have been a different case “if the president was remorseful rather than the scheme being used by the management to shield him. All we want is justice”.