Precisely 8years ago, 16th/17th June, 2005, the university town of Ago-Iwoye in Ogun state was engulfed in a crisis in which the students of Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) clashed with the local vigilante group. The attendant violence led to the death of many students, although the exact number may never be known. Many other students sustained injuries from gunshots, machete cuts and rape. The crisis led to the closure of the Ago Iwoye campus of the university for months.
From the available information, the crisis appeared to have been created by a conflict of needs and priorities between the students and the community. To secure the safety of the lives and property of its citizens from night marauders the community imposed an obligatory curfew forbidding movement within the town after 10pm.
It also created a local vigilante group to patrol the town and enforce the order. The action taken by the Ago-Iwoye community to protect itself. Since the Nigerian state has failed in its primary responsibility to provide for the basic needs of its citizens communities are compelled to assume such responsibilities on a self-help basis.
Students, on the other hand, have to study and socialise among their peers. And, as often happens on university campuses, these activities can extend far into the night. Where students live off-campus and within a community their actions and behaviour patterns may be at variance with the operational norms and needs of the host community. This created a gulf between the student populace and the host community which, eventually led to the crisis.
Information sources had it that, a student, Mr Lawal Ismail (RIP Bro), was said to have fallen foul of the movement restriction order in the town. He was accosted and attacked, some said with charms, by the vigilante group. The student died in the process. According to an official statement signed by the then Registrar of the university, Apostle Samuel Ajayi, students apparently marched to the palace of the Ebumawe of Ago-Iwoye, Oba Abdulrasaq Adenugba, to protest the killing of their colleague and to complain about the past excesses of the vigilante group. Up to that point the protest was peaceful and the situation was still containable. It however deteriorated shortly thereafter when gunshots were apparently fired from the palace into the crowd of students. Two students were reportedly injured while the others scampered for safety. Others were injured in the ensuing commotion.
The students responded by burning down the palace of the Oba and some other properties in the town. The vigilante groups subsequently launched a massive reprisal attack on the student populace. The attack, which lasted throughout the night and was accompanied by the use of the traditional ‘oro’ cult, which led to the death of an indeterminate number of students and the destruction of students and university property.
Eight years down the line, the host community, Ago – Iwoye and the students’ community have since resolved the issue and are now in peaceful co-existence for the development of the University and the host community.
With deep pain in our hearts, we remember those that lost their lives in this unfaithful incident and pray for the repose of their souls.
- The sole aim of this article is to remember those students whose lives were cut short during the crises and not to instigate any form of reappraisal attacks.
- We employ all students to remain law abiding and continue to live in peaceful co-existence with the host community.