Soon, the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife in Osun State may become history.
Reason: Land grabbers and land speculators may soon sell every available plot of land belonging to the citadel of learning.
Already, the land grabbers have sold plots of land worth N2.8 billion. Now a plot of land on the premises goes for N5 million while an acre is sold for N30 million. The land grabbers were said to have illegally acquired 162 hectares of the OAU land.
To scare the original owners, the land grabbers reported to have prepared fetish objects known as “Ebo” in Yoruba land and placed on the acquired land.
Investigation showed that the land grabbers have done the lay out of the land with a conspicuous signboard bearing “Oduduwa Housing Estate, Parakin, Ile-Ife, Ife community,” erected on the land.
Our correspondent, who visited the land yesterday, discovered that the land grabbers have stopped the on-going project, the international school of the institution. They reportedly chased away workers on the site and erected another signboard with the inscription: “Stop work, order, Ife community,” on the land.
Meanwhile, the N2.8 billion has been causing problem in Ife community. Those who reportedly shared in the money were summoned to a meeting. The community leaders, who dissociated themselves from the sales of the land, reportedly reprimanded those who received out of the money.
Sources at the meeting said those who bought the land were Nigerians in the Diaspora. It was also discussed at the meeting the poisoning of the institution’s dam by those who encroached on the university’s land.
The sources added that some of the high chiefs and traditional rulers who were part of the illegal land deal had also been identified and that they would be dealt with accordingly.
The sources said Ife was not happy that those who used the name of the community for illegal deals had caused embarrassment to Ife indigenes.
According to the meeting, the action also portrays Ife community as being ungrateful to the institution which has contributed immensely to the advancement of Ife land and its environs.
Sources in the institution also said that some of those who bought the land had started approaching the institution for a meeting to look for a way to solve the issue amicably.
The institution’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mr. Abiodun Olarewaju, yesterday conducted journalists round the land. It was discovered that three blocks of hostels on the land which could accommodate 360 students have been abandoned by the institution’s management in order not to risk the students’ lives.
Also, a caterpillar used to clear the land was seen on the land.
Olarewaju told journalists that it was not possible to cede the institution’s land to individuals and wondered why a group of people could decide to appropriate the land.
The PRO, however, said authorities of the institution had taken all necessary steps to address the matter.
He promised that efforts would be made to protect the lives of students and those of other stakeholders in the institution.
Olarewaju said the school management would use everything within its reach to ensure that the master plan of the institution was not tampered with.
He accused those he described as dubious individuals of invading the land which was earmarked for the university by the then late Oba Adesoji Aderemi when the institution was established in the 1960s.
The disputed land, according to the PRO, is about 162 hectares.
The PRO said some individuals, who claimed their land was taken for the university when it was established in 1961, had been selling some portions of the land.
Olarewaju also described the poisoning of the institution’s dam as an act of genocide against members of OAU.
Olanrewaju said the chemical used in poisoning the dam, which was the only source of water for the university, killed all the aquatic animals in it.
However, the PRO said the dam had been treated and was now safe for consumption.
He said: “The act is condemnable and wicked. How can a group of people poison the only dam where the over 36,000-strong university population was drinking from. The act is genocidal and wicked.
“They came through the Parakin area of the town to poison the dam but God was so good to us that immediately the dam was poisoned, rain fell for two days which washed the poisonous chemical away.
“We have treated the water and laboratory test had been done on it and now it is very safe to drink.”
Olarewaju also said OAU land “belongs to the Federal Government”.
He added that the university was not ready to concede it to anybody.
The PRO spoke on the decision to abandon the hostel.
He said: “For the safety of our children in the university, the vice-chancellor instructed us not to allocate any of 360 rooms newly built hostel to them.
“The vice-chancellor has also instructed our security men not to retaliate but it is not possible for anyone to invade Federal Government land for personal gain because the land is gazetted.
“We have informed the police and other security agencies and we believe they will act accordingly.
“We have also informed the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, and Ife Development Board.”
Olarewaju, however, said that anyone who was ready to use any portion of the land for the generality of the people and not for personal gain could approach the university for consideration.