Femi Aborishade, Nigerian human rights activist and Senior Lecturer at The Polytechnic, Ibadan, has alleged threats to his life and his family following successive attacks at his residence and stalking by an unknown gang, allegations now pulling the institution apart.
Speaking to SaharaReporters, Mr. Aborishade narrated how, at about 1:30 am on November 22, 2012, a gang broke into his residence, beating him up alongside his wife and making away with some personal effects.
The second attack occurred five weeks later on December 29, he said, during which the gang stood at his door and called him by name, asking him to ‘come out’, but he refused.
According to him, the concentration of attacks on him, two times within such a short period, alerted him to suspect that his life is at grave risk. Apart from the physical attacks, Mr. Aborishade said he has also noticed some prowlers on his trail, a development that has made him vacate his residence at the Polytechnic senior staff quarters.
Mr. Aborishade, who teaches in the Business Administration Department, has criticized the Polytechnic for apathy concerning his plight. He said he had written to the Inspector General of Police as the Polytechnic did not take the matter of his life seriously.
SaharaReporters contacted the Acting Rector of the Polytechnic, Mr. Adebisi Adeniran, who claimed that Mr. Aborishade did not inform the Polytechnic of the situation officially. The institution, he said, learned of the incidents from the police following Aborishade’s reports to them.
“We were not officially informed of that. But then, the authority still provided him two security personnel who are stationed at his residence”, said the Acting Rector.
The Polytechnic, he noted, is an Academic community. “The Rector is not trained to carry ammunition. If there is a threat to somebody’s life, what we could do is to approach the police for security support and since he has already done that as a citizen of Nigeria, what more are we expected to do? We should only wait for the police to do their job,” he said.
Mr. Aborishade had earlier pointed out that the attacks followed his trenchant criticism of unpopular moves by the Polytechnic authorities. He stated that he had opposed a move to impose a leader on the student’s body in the institution.
Saharareporters also learned from another source that Mr. Aborishade had also moved a motion against prodigal spending by a committee of the Polytechnic which spent N50million on a trip to Dubai in order to conduct an inquiry. The source said Mr. Aborishade maintained that the inquiry could be made over the Internet as against wasting N50millionof the Polytechnic’s fund on the foreign visit.
Even though the source did not link Mr. Aborishade’s criticism to his recent security problems, the Polytechnic’s Acting Rector stated that the alleged attacks could be from any source, noting that Mr. Aborishade is a man of many societal concerns.
“For instance”, Mr. Adebisi said, “he is an activist. Also at a time, he had contested an election. So, threats could come from anywhere. But if he suspects anything or anybody, he should say it out.”
The Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), Mr. Oluwasegun, drew specific attention to the fact that the security at The Polytechnic was overwhelmed and that the gang which went to Mr. Aborishade at the quarters during the second raid mentioned his name and called on him to show himself. Mr. Olwasegun stressed that what was abnormal was that one person was repeatedly the target, while others who lived within same quarters were spared.
But the Polytechnic’s Chief Security Officer was quoted as saying that the attackers were cultists from the campus, a statement which a source says only suggests that Mr. Aborishade is at loggerheads with them or may have taken a position at one of the Polytechnic’s meetings which contradicts the interest of the heinous group.
For his part, Mr. Olusegun Adebayo Philips said it was not new for armed robbery attacks to take place within the residential quarters, but that the dynamics of the latest one in which a particular person is the target and his name mentioned during an invasion is suspicious.
A statement issued by Mr. Ayodele Akele, the Executive Director of Labour, Health and Human rights Development Centre, also accused the Acting Rector of apathy, even complicity.
It said: “The attitude of the Management of the institution has left much to be desired. In fact it smacks of conspiracy and accomplices. How do you explain the criminal silence or ambivalent position of the Ag. Rector Ibadan Polytechnic over this matter? Up till now the Polytechnic is yet to carry out any investigation on the two attacks on Aborisade. Why has the Polytechnic authority not set up an investigation into the attacks on the life of Aborisade and family?”
It also asked: “Why has the Ag. Rector gone to town without any investigation to trivialize such heinous crime and drawing conclusions that the attackers were mere ‘night marauders’?”
“He (the Rector) further asserted that it was the Polytechnic security officers that were shooting in Femi’s house on the second attack and not the attackers and that if Aborisade were their target they would have gone for their target.
“We believe the Ag. Rector owes the public an explanation as to how he came about all the above conclusions if he or the authorities were not the sponsors of the attacks… What is responsible for the Rector’s attitude or apathy?”
Comrade Akele also posited in the statement that it was the nonchalant attitude of the Ibadan Polytechnic authorities that compelled Aborisade to send an SOS to the IGP in the first place and secondly to relocate outside the official quarters with his family.
Saharareporters has also learned that a congress of the ASUP today at the Ibadan Polytechnic tabled Mr. Aborishade’s threat-to-life- matter. The Chairman of ASUP said the union has given the Ibadan Polytechnic a two-week ultimatum to set up an investigation panel to look into the threat to the life of Mr. Aborishade. In addition to that, ASUP itself has set up a seven man committee, headed by Mr. Bamidele Aturu, to investigate the issue as a matter of urgency.
Meanwhile, Mr. Aborishade said that while on his way to the ASUP congress on Monday, he suspected a man who stood in his way, holding to his mouth a walkie-talkie device and flagging him to stop, but that he drove speedily away because the man was in mufti and did not look like a genuine policeman or security official.