A peaceful demonstration against their Executive Director, Professor Benjamin Adefemi Ogunbodede over allegation of embezzlement totaling N192. 5million was launched by staff of the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, (IAR&T), Apata, Ibadan, a campus of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife trooped out en-masse Monday.
The protest was organized by four unions of the institution namely: Non-Academic Staff Union, (NASU), Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU), Senior Staff Association of Universities Teaching Hospitals Research Institute and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI) and National Association of Academic Tecthnologists (NAAT).
Giving the four unions support were members of Academic Staff Union of Nigeria Universities (ASUU) led by the institution’s ASUU chairperson, Dr. O.T. Ande. Ande said that ASUU would hold its own protest and press conference Tuesday on the matter.
The workers alleged that N177.5 million was withdrawn from the Institute’s account by the embattled director for the payment of staff hazard allowance which they claimed was never paid them. The workers also alleged that "the management claimed to have spent N15million meant for harvesting of crops produced by the Institute when no such activity was carried out in any of the Institute’s stations".
The workers claimed that the two panels set up by the Vice Chancellor of OAU, Professor Tale Omole and the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN) indicted the director, the Chief Accountant and Accountant I of financial impropriety and recommended that the entire accounts unit of the institute be overhauled.
Protesters conduct mock funeral service for Professor Ogunbodede
The workers from all the labour unions on the campus carried a mock coffin and placards bearing different inscriptions and insisted that the removal of Ogunbodede was the only panacea to the resolution of the graft logjam. The mock coffin was carried to the St. Paul Anglican Church, Apata, in Ibadan, the church where Professor Ogunbodede not only worships, but has also been ordained as "venerable".
They ended the protest at the institution’s administrative block where they held a mock funeral service for Ogunbodede and thereafter buried the coffin.
In separate interviews, NASU Chairman, Comrade Oladeinde Emanuel Oluwafemi and ASUU Chairperson, Dr. Ande disclosed that the staff of the institution have downed tools for over 9 months over various fraudulent activities perpetrated by the authority of the institution saying that apart from pending benefits yet to be paid, the staff are yet to receive salaries since last December.
All efforts to reach Professor Ogunbodede proved abortive as he was not in the office as at the time our correspondent paid a visit. Also, the phone of the OAU VC was switched off at the time of filing this report.