Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Juju scare in LASU
•Admin, Senate buildings laced with charms
•No-go-area for VC, staff for past 7 months
DON’T step into the Admin Block 1 of the Lagos State University (LASU) or the Senate Building if you don’t want to die! That is the message that those who laced the place with charms sought to deliver with their frightening deed. Since then fear has pervaded the 32-year-old institution in the past six months. The Admin Block 1, which houses the office of the Vice Chancellor, Prof John Obafunwa, other principal officers and registry staff has been deserted for over six months over alleged juju scare. This is the second time under his administration that juju was reportedly placed on the Admin Block and Senate Building.
On a good day, the Admin Block 1 was the busiest office on the campus and has the highest human traffic, mainly staff, students and visitors entering and coming out. It is a one storey building located near the Badagry Expressway gate of the university.
The Senate Building, which faces both the Admin Block 1 and 2, has also been abandoned in the past six months for the same reason forcing meetings of the Senate to be held at the Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM).
In the last six months, the Admin Block 1 and the Senate Building have been made to look like a ghost town because of desertion by the Vice Chancellor, Prof John Obafunwa, principal officers and other staff over fear of being harmed by fetishes left in the area. The trouble started on Monday, March 16, 2015, when the staff unions chased out the VC, his two deputies, the Registrar and other senior management staff out of the campus.
Less than 24 hours after the protest, the university workers asked the former Governor, Babatunde Fashola, to appoint an acting VC, adding that they have ‘sacked’ the vice chancellor. The staff unions also demanded for a Visitation Panel.
The next day after the protest, congress of the three staff unions at their different meetings banned Prof. Obafunwa from entering the campus, accusing him of maladministration and several other offences. Loyalists of the VC fought back and condemned the action of their colleagues, insisting that Obafunwa should be allowed into the university to carry out his duties.
After the ugly incident, the Admin Block 1 and the Senate were locked and since then no staff including the principal officers and even the campus security personnel had gone near the building.
The 32-year-old institution may have made history as the first tertiary institution whose VC has not set foot on campus for over six months because of the prolonged face-off with the workers who have vowed not to allow him into the university.
Fear of what happened to other workers, who some years back tried to force open the Admin and Senate blocks, also made security personnel and those loyal to the embattled VC not to open the two iron gates. Rumours about staff who were struck by strange illness when they tried to enter the buildings previously has made the place a no-go area.
For days, some staff were placed on ‘special duty’ by the unions to monitor the locked Admin and Senate blocks even as the workers gathered under a tree to continue with their celebration over the banishment of the VC and other top management from the campus.
Investigation reveals that several attempts were made by the immediate past governor to smuggle the embattled VC into the campus but the main problem was that nobody wanted to go near the Admin Block 1 and the Senate Building because of fear of the juju.
Even the NANS and LASU students union that demanded for the VC’s return to the main campus were not bold enough to go near the dreaded spots. They restricted their protest around the two gates.
When our correspondent visited the campus, it was evident that the Admin Block and Senate Building has not been used for several months, as the surroundings were overgrown with weeds. It was gathered that members of staff of the university also avoid the place for fear of bad omen.
Further enquires revealed that registry staffs, whose offices were located in the Admin Block 1 and the Senate Building have been temporary relocated to other offices. The VC, Prof Obafunwa, has been using his personal office at LASUCOM, while Senate meetings were held at one of the halls in LASUCOM.
Efforts by our correspondent to find out who laced the Admin Block and Senate Building with juju proved abortive as the Director, Centre for Information, Press and Public Relations (CIPPR), Mrs. Ronke Osho was said to have started her retirement leave from the services of the Lagos State government.
The chairmen of ASUU, SSANU and NASU claimed ignorance of the juju. But some union members dared the students, state government and Obafunwa’s loyalists to open the gates.
“The unions will not stop them from going to open the Admin Block 1 and the Senate Building, but they know the consequences,” a staff who wishes to remain anonymous, explained. “Those who tried it some years ago know what happened. Even the VC and his loyalists know the implications of going to open the gates by force.’
It was gathered that before the gates of the Admin Block 1 and Senate Building would be opened for use, certain rituals would need to be performed in the night.
The new Pro Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, Prof. Adebayo Ninalowo told Education Review that he and his members are working hard to restore peace on campus. He said they met the staff unions and students unions recently.
Obafunwa’s tenure would end on October 31 and staff unions have already started a countdown for him with two big banners placed at the two gates of the university. announcing how many days are left of his administration.