On a recent night inside the campus of the Redeemer’s University along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway; half a dozen people queue behind an Automated Teller Machine.
A steady flow of students leisurely shuffle along the lit roads, discussing in low tones as they shuttle between their hostels and the library.
The ambience does not give away a storm quietly brewing between the school and some disgruntled ‘former’ students after the latter were expelled for allegedly testing positive to hard drugs last year.
In November, a student caught with hard drugs fingered his accomplices, according to the school’s management.
Of the 42 students who were rounded up and made to undergo the test at the university’s health centre, 28 tested positive to cannabis, cocaine, morphine, and other hard drugs.
Some of the students who had been expelled, who requested not to be named “for personal reasons,” told PREMIUM TIMES that they are innocent.
However, the university’s policy of not having them face a panel meant they never got a chance to defend their alleged acts before the school authorities.
One of the affected students said that he had been taking a codeine-containing cough syrup to cure his cough.
“They did not show us the result. They did not give us the chance to defend ourselves. It is not fair,” said one of the students.
“Even if they expel me, let them show me the result,” he added.
Also, the university’s decision to issue only warning letters to some of the indicted students did not go down well with those expelled.
“Some people were given warning letters, some were expelled over the same incident. At least, we should be punished on the same level,” another affected student said.
“I was the only one that was expelled among all my friends,” he added.
“They were merciful to others. Why?”
Another student, who allegedly tested positive to cannabis sativa, said that he had never used the drug.
“My parents are taking me to do an NDLEA (National Drug Law Enforcement Agency) test. After that, we’d have a basis to sue,” the student said.
‘Not a rehab centre’
Situated inside the expansive Redemption Camp, the university was established in 2005 by The Redeemed Christian Church of God, headed by Enoch Adeboye, the General Overseer.
Though the university is run on a strict moral regimen, cases of students in possession of Rizla, Rophynol pills, or even Indian hemp are not uncommon.
The institution’s spokesperson, Adetunji Adeleye, said that the institution is not a rehab centre.
“Some parents think that this is a place where you will produce a bad child and you can send the child here and the child will be taken through rehabilitation,” said Mr. Adeleye.
“This is not a rehab centre. This is not just a Christian based university, but foremost Christian based university in Africa.
“Before they entered, they swore an oath…. This is a Christian based university. If a student is caught with something that is not in line with our philosophy, we will ask him to go and heaven will not fall,” Mr. Adeleye added.
The school prides itself as a centre where hidden talents are discovered and transformed into people who would make Nigeria proud, uplift the continent, and positively impact the world.
Recently, when the management suspected that some students had begun to engage in questionable acts; the Vice Chancellor declared an amnesty.
“I cannot actually call it rehabilitation,” Mr. Adeleye said.
“We call it Destiny Recovery Programme. Those people that are enmeshed in dirty things; that we’ll provide a Christian platform where they will be taken through some processes that will make them to turn around from those acts and live the life that God wants them to live,” he added.
The amnesty programme, announced at the university’s Student Forum held every semester, also engages the students in social works within the university.
“The programme is a joke,” another expelled student told PREMIUM TIMES.
“They only announced it once that if you are involved in doing drugs and other stuffs, that you should come and put your name down. After that I heard nothing about it again,” the student said.
“One of those that put down his name said that he didn’t know what it was about. He was still among those expelled.”
The Redeemer’s University is in the top echelon of the most expensive tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
The school fees for the 2012/2013 academic year were pegged between N510,000 and N550,000 for the 100 and 200 Level students). The fresh students were also expected to pay an additional N80,000.
The 300 Level and final year school fees ranged between N407,000 and N440,000.
Despite the huge fees, the school, which is on the verge of moving to its permanent site a few hundred kilometres away, struggles to break even.
Last year, Mr. Adeboye injected N720 million into the university, according to Mr. Adeleye.
And although the expulsion of “defaulting” students would further deplete revenue, the school is not profit-driven.
“University system is for social investment, it’s not for profit. Baba (Pastor Adeboye) is augmenting, the church is augmenting,” said Mr. Adeleye.
“All those world class professors, we are going to pay their salaries,” he added.
The university’s objective states that it aims to arrest the decay in the educational sector through appropriate training.
Mr. Adeleye said that the objective remains sacrosanct and it is “too late” for the expelled students who, he said, had failed to embrace the amnesty.
“Catch a Boko Haram, allow him to go back and you now know the damage he would do to the society,” Mr. Adeleye said comparing a re-admittance of the ex-students to provision of freedom to members of the dreaded insurgent group, Boko Haram.
“Repentance does not come after you have been caught. Who are you fooling? It is never done anywhere in the world.
“We don’t want graduates who would tarnish the school’s name,” he said.