2nd January, 2020
The authorities of Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State, Nigeria, founded by Davido’s father, Dr Deji Adeleke are facing public scrutiny once again over their religious intolerance, in a country with a constitution that provides for freedom of religion.
The private school, which is founded on the religious ethics of the Seventh Day Adventist church, drove itself into the new storm following the suspension of a part three Law student, Lawal Toheeb, for failure to attend the university’s compulsory chapel activities.
Lawal was suspended last month for a semester and as P.M.News gathered, he may be expelled on resumption for not identifying and adhering to the religious activities in the school.
In a letter of suspension, signed by the school registrar, Mr. Oyerinde Caleb Oyejola JP, the student was found guilty of ‘gross disrespect to constituted authority”. This followed the approval by the President/Vice Chancellor of the report of the Students’ Disciplinary Committee
According to simplysalafiyah.com, an Islamic news platform, Lawal Toheeb was invited to face the disciplinary committee on 3rd December, 2019, at the Senate Building of the school after being caught not attending chapel activities.
A week after, he was suspended from the school.
P.M.News spoke with an official of the school on Thursday on the suspension of the muslim student. Mr. Bolaji, who heads the admissions department of the school initially said he was not aware of Lawal’s case.
But he said the Student Handbook is clear about the obligations of students to the religious practices of the school.
“You can’t be suspended. If a student doesn’t go to the chapel, he forfeits his studentship”, he said.
The Handbook states, ‘careful preparation should be made for the Sabbath especially on Friday before sundown: clothes and shoes to be worn on Sabbath should be made ready between (5:00p.m. to 6:00p.m.).’
‘The following are activities that are in harmony with the spirit of the Sabbath observance: (a) Attending religious services, (b) Maintaining reverence during the worship, (c) enjoying church fellowship,’ the Handbook also states.
The school operates a merit/demerit system for obedience or disobedience to the various rules and regulations of the school among which is compulsory attendance of chapel services where the Seventh Day Church doctrines such as singing, dancing, preaching and host of other activities, hold sway. There are a number of chapels such as Shalom Chapel, Salvation Chapel, Grace Chapel, Praise Chapel, Peace Chapel, etc., that all the students have been grouped.
Non-attendance of chapel programme attracts a 10-point demerit, which was formerly a 5-point, according to our findings. A student who has amassed between 10 and 60 points of demerits may be asked to carry out a community service such as sweeping the floor of the surroundings, cutting the grass, cleaning the gutters, or other dirty jobs, all in the university arena. But at any point above 60 demerits, the student will be summoned to face a disciplinary panel from where he can be suspended and eventually expelled from the school if he is returned and does not comply with the law of compulsory chapel attendance.
According to simplysalafiyah.com, Lawal foresaw he was going to be at loggerheads with the authorities as he made it clear at a screening interview held on the 3rd of November 2017 that he was not willing to compromise his religion by attending the Sabbath worship.’
‘I said, ‘I hope there is a concession for me’. However, it was the Students Care Dean’s voice I heard first, remarking that ‘No! If you refuse to abide by the law of the land then be ready to be expelled from this school.’’
Why he was admitted to school, having stated he was going to be rebellious, remains a riddle.
In June, The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) accused AU of persecuting Muslim students in the institution.
The Director of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola, urged the National Universities Commission to save muslims.
“Adeleke University is a serial violator of Allah-given fundamental rights of Muslim students. This institution forces Muslim students to attend church on Sundays. It makes it mandatory for students living in the hostel to attend church every Wednesday and Saturday”, it read.
“The practice of any other faith on campus except Christianity is banned. Muslim students must not be seen observing Salat. Hijab is a taboo in Adeleke University. Yet all these Islamophobic practices are smartly hidden from prospective students of the institution until they have paid the exorbitant school fees and can no longer withdraw.”
“In particular, we invite NUC to take a look at the students’ handbook of this institution, especially pages 7, 49, 50, 56 and 60. These pages, to our mind, contain rules that infringe on the religious freedom of Muslim students. As a regulating body, NUC has a duty to intervene in this matter as part of its oversight function on Nigeria’s universities.
However, the school sometimes denied being religiously intolerant, describing the accusations as malicious. The Vice Chancellor of the school, Professor Samuel Ekundayo Alao, in an interview in the campus journal, Adeleke Star, last November said, ‘such malicious rumour cannot be spread by Muslim students in the institution who are enjoying the freedom to practice their religion and other benevolent acts of the institution.’
But as simplysalfiyah.com reported, the freedom the muslims enjoyed is the freedom to observe the weekly Jumat service at Adeleke mosque in Ede.