Fee Increment: UNIABUJA Clarifies ‘Misleading’ Report On Suspension Of Students

The University of Abuja has clarified the suspension of two students of the institution pending an investigation into an inciteful social media post made by them.

An online platform (not THE WHISTLER) had reported that the two students Cyprian Igwe (Director of Socials) and Olamilekan Samson Oladeru (Director of Sports) were rusticated by the University over a planned protest against the recent school fee increment.

However, the institution’s Dean of Student Affairs, Prof. Umar Kari told THE WHISTLER that the students were suspended pending disciplinary process.

He said the affected students authored and shared “a very inciting write-up capable of precipitating crisis in the university” via social media adding that they forged the signature of the President and Speaker of the Students’ Union.

“The two suspects were suspended pending disciplinary process. Unfortunately, the Deputy Registrar who issued them the letter used ‘Rustication’ rather than ‘Suspension’ (the two are technically not the same), but the error has been corrected,” he added.

The President of the Students’ Union, Emmanuel Anyantayo Emitayo and Speaker of Unions’ Parliament, Muhammad Bahar told THE WHISTLER in separate phone interviews that their signatures were forged in a communique circulated on various social media platforms in the school.

“A communique was sent out claiming that I held some meeting with some stakeholders with regard to the increment of school fee, and I also stated that I was going to stage a protest on Monday, 29th May 2023 at the National Assembly, Eagle Square and other places. My signature and that of my speaker were forged. Immediately I saw it, I sent out a counter communique to let everyone know that I didn’t author it.

“So the security unit of the university began investigations and interrogated every member of the student union including myself to find the origin of the letter. I was interrogated for like 2 hours on Friday, later that day I saw the letter on rustication, I was shocked because it was still a preliminary investigation and there is no how you can rusticate students without giving a reason. So I reached out to management and they clarified that it was a mistake, and that was a very big mistake because such letters do not just fall out from the office of the registrar, it passes through various offices before it gets to the students,” Emitayo said.

The Student Union president added that the suspended students have completed their final exams.

Bahar on his part said, “On the 23rd of this month around 6:42 pm, I saw a lengthy press release on a WhatsApp platform calling for protest and other things. That press release was allegedly signed by the President, Ayantayo and myself which was fake. So, management started investigations, it was said that the director of socials, supported by the director of sports posted a call for a meeting which coincided with the misleading press release. Meanwhile, as student leaders, we were not aware as we were already having a dialogue with management on the fee increment.”

University Management Increased Fee Without ‘Carrying Students Along’ – SUG President

The president of the student union also shed light on efforts being made by the union to resolve the fee increment impasse with management.

He said the inputs of students were discarded when the new fees were being deliberated by the University management.

“We had a meeting with management before the increment was announced but all our inputs were invalidated, and weren’t taken seriously. Out of like 8 meetings they had on the increment we were only invited to 3 and at the end of everything it was more like we were just there to witness what they were doing and not a part of it.

“So at the end of the whole thing, they called that I should assent to it, which I rejected because I can’t assent to an increment I wasn’t a part of, they even contacted the director of finance. The increment varies by faculties but it was as high as 125 percent in some departments and the school fee was increased 2 years ago.

“We understand that the increment is inevitable but it was just increased recently. We requested for breakdown and summary of the fees so that we can have a proper negotiation with the vice-chancellor, but they’ve refused to hand over that document to us. In the meeting it was just a few things we saw, we didn’t see everything.

“We don’t have the breakdown that justifies the increment, we do not know how they arrived at the new charges. The breakdown will help us negotiate better and channel our energy towards the charges that are outrageous – for instance, if you put utility bills at 10,000 naira we can make you see reasons why it should not be 10,000 naira,” he said.

Emitayo added that the union was negotiating the possibility of installments although no reasonable progress has been made.

“We are proposing a 60:40 instalment plan where you pay 60% in the first semester and 40% in the second semester.”

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