The ongoing feud between the authorities of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife and its host community over alleged encroachment of OAU land by the latter deepened on Tuesday when the community under the aegis of Ife Development Board warned the institution not to destroy their property on the land to avoid the wrath of Ife people.
The board, in a press conference addressed by its president, Jire Awowoyin at the Ife City Hall, claimed that the land in question was outside the boundary of the university.
Also, the legal adviser to the community, Adeyemi Adetise challenged the OAU management to drag them to court instead of embarking on circulation of misinformation
However, the president of the Ife Development Board posited that “if OAU management brings people to come and destroy our property, we will also send people to send them away. We are calling on law enforcement agencies to warn OAU not to trespass into our land, The security agencies should also approach the OAU management and ask for the documents of the land they are claiming belong to them.
“We are debunking the allegations of falsehood OAU management which ii hatched to mislead the public about the true pictures of event over the disputed portion of land.
“OAU management is the one encroaching on Ife land by trespassing outside the portion of land given to the institution by the late Ooni of Ife, Ooni Adesoji Aderemi.”
“While the Management of Obafemi Awolowo has done its worst in muddling up the facts as contained in available documents that sealed the establishment of a university for the Western Region in 1962, we wish to present to the entire world and the general public the incontrovertible facts from the unbiased lens of irrefutable documents with facts and figures contained therein:
“The general public cannot be unaware that the business of government is sealed and legalised in gazette which is usually in print form for the purpose of conferring legitimacy on the Government’s actions. In 1965, therefore, the land transaction between Ife Province and the “Western Region was gazetted in gazette number 13, Vol 10 of 16th March 1961.
“The University Management has 9 several times, out of avarice and desperation to legitimise a unilateral appropriation of the Community land beyond Opa River and Amuta Stream, A made baseless references to the only gazette published in 1965, to support its unilateral appropriation of the community land done in 1987, more than two decades after the 1965 gazette.”
“Based on this unilateral appropriation of Community land by the Management of Obafemi Awolowo University in which it arrogated to itself 11, 961 Hectares of | land, it commenced indiscriminate sales of the land to private individuals under the guise of Public-Private Partnership and BOT purposely to enrich members of the Management and not the University. Examples abound of instances of such sales exposed by various committees of the university in the recent past.”
“A very disturbing case of such sales is the sales of 3000 hectares of farmland to Harvesters Farm Limited under the guise of lease in 2013 by the then Senior Principal Officers of the University led by Prof. Bamitale Omole. The University Management has taken for granted the favourable disposition of the Community to extent of doing business for their personal benefits with the land given to the University for academic, research and training purposes.”
“We also gathered that the Surveyor-General of the Federation has issued, signed and sealed a Survey Plan No. 05/1356/2013/001, measuring 2557.1314 Hectares of Ife Land in favour of the Harvesters Farms Ltd. The shenanigans of the University Management is ad-infito.”
“We, therefore, wish to inform the General public that Ife Community does not recognize any land allocation or acquisition documents other than the Survey Plan No Ife 41 and the 1965 Gazette, where the land area given to the Western Nigerian Government is 13,852 Acres as against 11, 961 Hectares being claimed by the University Management. We challenge the University Management to approach any court of competent jurisdiction if it is sure of its claim.
The IDB president, however, called on the Federal Government and the Ministry of Education not to take sides, but set up a high-powered committee to look into the dispute towards finding a lasting solution.