Varsity Student Rusticated for Publishing Alleged ‘Defamatory’ Article in Newspaper

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Kunle Adebajo
Kunle Adebajo

The authorities of the University of Ibadan have rusticated a final year law student, Kunle Adebajo over an article he published in a daily newspaper which they alleged was  “highly defamatory” and capable of bringing the name of the university into disrepute.According to school authorities, “the piece portrays you [Kunle] as someone who is rude, a false proclaimer and very insubordinate”.​

Kunle who had written his final year exams ought to proceed to the Nigerian Law School for his one year professional training that would lead to the award of BL and eventually the call to the Nigerian Bar.

Titled “UI: The irony of fashionable rooftops and awful interiors”, the article dissected the structural problems the University of Ibadan halls of residence are confronted with and the cosmetic remedies the school authority was giving that did not address the issues but which he considered were rather misplaced priorities.

The article, published by the privately owned daily, The Guardian newspapers on April 20, 2016, called on the school authorities to take steps to address issues he raised including asking the school to learn to set its priorities straight and stop confusing priorities “with necessities, and necessities never with frivolities”. It is available online at https://guardian.ng/features/ui-the-irony-of-fashionable-rooftops-and-awful-interiors/.

He called on the university authorities, in the article, to seek the opinion of all stakeholders, experts and beneficiaries “if any decision-making process is to be toughened against backfiring”; and on the Vice-Chancellor to stop prioritising staff above students and end the utter disregard for students and workers in the membership of crucial bodies on campus, among other ‘irregularities’.

Kunle received queries from the university authorities all of which he responded to.

The Mellanby Hall Warden fired the first query giving him 48 hours to give reasons disciplinary action should not be taken against him for bringing “the name of the school into disrepute,” contrary to his matriculation oath.

Thereafter, the Student Affairs Department sent him another query alleging gross misconduct. The letter was written and signed by the university legal adviser. It also alleged, with a long list of references, that my article was rude, defamatory and insubordinate.

Again his faculty sent an SMS to his mother inviting him to a sitting of the disciplinary panel. Kunle said he learnt later on that the faculty eventually recommended to the university that he be reprimanded.

According to him, he finally faced the Central Student Disciplinary Committee and after his plea was taken, he told that the Committee has advised the Vice Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor has approved that he be rusticated for two semesters and that he could appeal to the Council within fourteen days [of receiving the verdict in writing].

And so when the lists of graduating students were published, his name was missing but was written among those with academic shortcomings or who were alleged to have committed examination malpractice among similar offences.

In effect, the school is preventing him from going to the Nigeria Law School for another two years for daring to expose the underbelly of the University’s authorities efforts at “reno-painting” its dilapidated structures rather than renovating them.