There was palpable apprehension over the weekend, at Okebaale area of Osogbo, the Osun state capital, as students of the Osun State University, UNIOSUN, took to the streets in a protest, over alleged incessant harassment by members of the police.
They had alleged that police officers from the State Criminal Investigation Department, (SCID), constantly raid their hostels, taking their belongings and arresting the students who, only get freed after parting with huge sums of money.
The students barricaded the roads, while chanting anti-police songs and burning tyres, which led to a hours of heavy vehicular and human traffic.
Road-side traders were equally forced to close their shops and makeshift stalls for fear of a potential clash between the students and police.
Although the students refused to grant interviews for fear of sanctions by the school authority, should their identity be discovered, one Bamigbayo Gabriel, who claimed to be one of the students representatives of the university, confirmed the incidents.
He told newsmen off camera, that officers from SCID Osogbo, and the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), zone eleven headquarters, “have been coming to harass the students”, under the guise of looking for internet fraudsters, popularly known as ‘yahoo boys’ from among the students.
“They (the police) will just burst into the hostels and start harassing the students, collecting their phones and laptops.
“They raid and arrest students who are later made to part with huge sums of money before they can be released.”
Some other eye-witnesses, said the police sometimes climb through the fences just to have their way in.
“The matter was said to have gotten to the notice of the State Commissioner of Police, Fimihan Adeoye, who promised to arrange a meeting between the students and the police, to iron things out.
“This was however yet to materialize before the men of the SCID allegedly raided their hostels again, this week resulting to the protest,” an eye-witness confirmed.
According to the witness, a former Commissioner for Information in the state, Honourable Sunday Akere, who was passing through the road to a function, was forced to stop and attend to the students.
Mr Akere urged the students to channel their grievances through the right quarters, to the state government and the matter would be taken up at the state security council level.
“The matter is not between the students and the government neither is it between them and the school management.
“You can see that they are only angry with the over-zealousness and police brutality, but I have talked to them on how to go about tabling their grievances before the necessary and right quarters and I hope they will surely do that.
“When that is done, I can assure you that Mr Governor himself, as the Chief Security officer of the state, will take it up at the appropriate quarters,” the information commissioner stated.
The school management on the other hand, claimed they only “got wind of the issue two weeks ago and it was taken to the Police Public relations officer, (PPRO) and the Commissioner of Police in the state, who promised to look into the matter and find amicable ways of resolving it”.
The Dean, students affairs, UNIOSUN, Dr. Adepeju Adigun expressed surprised at the recurrence of the matter.
She however appealed to police authorities in the state to quickly look into it and find a lasting solution.
Efforts to speak with the PPRO Osun state, SP Folashade Odoro, failed to yield positive results as she was said to be out of the command headquarters, while her phones were switched off when calls were put through.
Normalcy has however returned to the areas, as residents continue to await a lasting solution to the issue, before they are forced to witness such tension again.