Academic and administrative activities were temporarily put on hold on Monday as members of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, shut down the university.
The crisis rocking the university took a new dimension when members of the union from the Western Zone barricaded all access roads into the university, protesting against the sack of 23 of their members.
The university’s governing council had on Friday sacked 23 members of staff of the institution on allegations such as stealing, absconding from duty and wilful disrespect to constituted authority.
The protest, which started at about 8 am, caught many students and staff of the institution unaware as movement into the school was disrupted for the better part of the day.
Bonfires and vehicles were used in blocking the Alabata road of the institution as the protesters were seen chanting anti-management songs.
Security personnel, including the men of the Nigeria Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), were on ground to maintain peace and orderliness.
Addressing the protesters, the National Vice -President, Western zone, Alfred Jimoh, urged the governing council to recall their colleagues unconditionally.
Jimoh called on the Federal Government to probe the activities of the institution under the leadership of Professor Olusola Oyewole.
He wondered why his colleagues who were demanding for probity, accountability and transparency in the handling of the finances of the institution became the hunted.
“The Federal Government should beam its searchlight on FUNNAB, if truly and indeed they are sincere with the anti- corruption war”, he said.
He added that the action of the institution’ s management should be condemned in its entirety by Nigerians of good conscience.
The SSANU leadership later proceeded to the Palace of the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, at Ake, Abeokuta, a distance of about three kilometres.
Jimoh who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, appealed to the Paramount ruler, to prevail on the management of FUNAAB to reverse the sack of their colleagues.
Gbadebo expressed sadness over the turn of events at the university, pledging to wade into the crisis.
Alake deplored the sacking of the 23 SSANU members without giving them the opportunity of fair hearing.
Gbadebo said: “we are not happy in the town about what is happening at the university, we are praying that you will get back on track soon, but do not shut down the university.
“However, I will take up the issue with the management beginning with the Vice – Chancellor and the case of those removed in annoyance and in a hurry would be looked into, “he said.
The institution’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mrs Emi Alawode, said normalcy had since returned to the university community.
She explained that junior staff of the institution were on ground to carry out their duties despite the protest.
Alawode disclosed that FUNAAB was already observing a lecture-free week according to the institution’s calendar.
She stated that series of meetings were on-going towards ensuring that management found solution to the crisis.
She said that many SSANU and ASUU members and technologists, among others, still found their way to the university despite the protest.