NEDU MARK, Yenagoa
Hundreds of male students of the Federal University Otuoke, in Bayelsa state, were thrown into a confused state as they were forcibly ejected from their 52-bedroom hostel apartments by the owner of the property.
The Federal University is located in President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s community, Otuoke in Ogbia local Government Area of the state.
Most of the hostels in the University are owned by private individuals who rent same to the institution’s authorities on a yearly basis.
The ejected students had barely resumed academic studies, Sunday, only to be sacked from their hostels by the landlord who claimed the University authorities and the state government were indebted to him to tune of N24 million being two years rent.
Our correspondent who visited the University reports that the porter and the school’s Dean of Student Life, Dr. Marcellina Offoha, were seen packing some of the belongings of the students out of the hostel as the landlord waited to put a lock on the gate.
The aggrieved Hostel landlord, Mr. Emmanuel Toiyebo, who spoke with our reporter brandished a letter from his solicitors, Stream Solicitors, based in Yenagoa, saying he was tired of the antics of the state government, that has failed to honour the agreement to pay him annually for the apartments.
Toiyebo said he had made several efforts to get the issue resolved amicably but all his efforts were thwarted by the Bayelsa state government.
“I am evicting the university, they are my tenants, they are owing due to the negligence by the state government, they are owing me for two years, I have given them quit notice and I hope they are quitting.
”I have spoken to the state government. I have had meetings with the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, I have had meetings with the Permanent Secretary, PS. I have had meetings with the Vice Chancellor, met with the school Registrar, but to no avail.
“And the reason they gave was that there was no fund from the state government because it was the Bayelsa state government that we have the tenancy agreement with and the state government bequeathed the properties to the Federal university but whichever way, we have an agreement to be paid, which has not been carried out.”
The quit notice signed by R.E. Ndiomu, on behalf of the solicitors, read: “We the landlords of the 52 bedroom apartments at Onuegbum, Otuoke road, Otuoke, give you notice to quit and deliver possession of the aforementioned property with its appurtenances which you hold as a tenant or before the expiration of seven days upon the receipt of this notice, for failure of the Bayelsa state government through the office of the Secretary to the state government, Bayelsa state to pay the balance of N24 million as rent accruable.”
The letter was copied to the Vice Chancellor, Federal University, Otuoke, the Chief Legal Adviser to the university, and the Secretary of the state government, who claimed receipt of the letter on the 10th of March, 2015.
Reacting to the ejection of the students from the hostels , Dean of Student Life, Dr. Marcellina Offoha, who was on hand to witness the lock down of the hostel apartments said, the students were coming back to the hostels at the weekend but met the place under lock.
Offoha said both the students and the school authorities are in dilemma but assured that the school authorities, the state government and the landlord will settle the issue amicably in the shortest time possible.
“We have come and we have begged him. We are on our knees; he is a kind person and he has allowed us to take at least somethings that will basically calm the students where ever they are, while discussions with the school and the government continue,” she said.
Repeated calls put to the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seriake Dickson, Daniel Mackson Iworiso, were not answered while text messages to his phone were not replied. However, Olusoji Ajibola, Special Assistant on Media, in a telephone chat promised he will get back to us but to no avail.