The authorities of Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State, Nigeria, has suspended the studentship of a part three Law student, Lawal Toheeb, for failure to attend the university’s imposed numerous chapel activities.
In a letter of suspension, signed by the school registrar, Mr. Oyerinde Caleb Oyejola JP, that was handed over to the affected student on 10th December 2019, the university says, inter alia, ‘The President/Vice-Chancellor considered the report of the Students’ Disciplinary Committee that found you guilty of gross disrespect to Constituted Authority. The Vice-Chancellor subsequently approved that you should be suspended from all academic activities in the University for One Semester to commence the second semester of 2019/2020 academic session in line with the sanction in the Students’ Handbook…’.
Lawal Toheeb was invited to face the disciplinary committee on 3rd December 2019, at the Senate Building of the school, that has persons like Pastor Andrew Emuroutu, Mrs. Omije; the Chief Security Officer of the School, Mr. Kola Ojetoye; Professor Oguntoyinbo Atere, the Dean of Students’ Care; as members. The Panel was chaired by the school registrar, Mr. Oyerinde Caleb Oyejola.
According to Lawal Toheeb, all his pleas to the panel that he is a Muslim fell on their deaf ears. He said they all alluded to the fact it was a mandatory rule of the school that all students must attend the chapel services.
The school Sabbath Worship takes place 8-45am to 9-15 am on Saturdays, so also in the evenings of Wednesdays and Saturdays, as contained on page 49 of the student’s handbook.
This website confirmed that the Sabbath activities on Saturdays used to end by 12 noon, while the ones on the evening of Wednesdays are till sunset.
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 (5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.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.
In our investigation, 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 the chapel program 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.
However, according to Lawal Toheeb, in his personal report he forwarded to this website, ‘The genesis significantly began at a screening interview held on the 3rd of November 2017 where I appealed to the board that I am not willing to compromise my 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,’’ he said further.
‘The school exercises continued and my artless mind remained in trauma… I had to attend the chapel worships every Wednesday evening and Saturday, morning and evening. Then a week soon came that the attendance ran on for a whole week and no days were spared. When present in the service, we were obliged to throw all worries behind and ‘stand with those who stood’. ‘to sit as others did’ they would not mind if we clapped along also. They would always ask for that and persuade us to close eyes as they pray.’
‘Each day we were found unyielding, they would seize our cards and scare us with demerit points or community services.
‘I was once caught in my room by the Hall officers on a Sabbath morning and dragged to the security post. ‘I’m a Muslim’ I objected but they were always gutsy and swift to reply ‘other Muslims are there.’ I found my way back in having spent about an hour loitering aimlessly around the Security Post awaiting sanction.’
At the tail end of the report, the student wrote: ‘Earlier this semester, I faced Disciplinary Committee on charges of the non-attendance of Sabbath worships and not appearing before the panel back then. I explained again, ‘I am a Muslim and I hold a different belief and that I once appeared back then too but left for exams’ but they were indifferent.
Then the officers came for me yesterday about 4:pm and were led to the CSO who asked if you would be indifferent why did you remain here? And I frankly replied ‘I never knew it is Zero Tolerance if I don’t compromise’. He couldn’t say anything to it. I asked me to be taken to the Senate for the letter.
And just yesterday sir, I was served a suspension letter by Mrs. Ajayi on those charges for a full semester commencing January (I have attached the suspension letter) also.’ End of quote.
Meanwhile, the school has always claimed that it does not force the Muslim students to attend church services in the school, in a statement credited to the Vice Chancellor of the school, Professor Samuel Ekundayo Alao, that appeared in an interview he granted a newspaper outfit of the school, Adeleke Star, in its November 18, 2019, edition, he said, ‘such malicious rumor 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.’ The newspaper also alluded to him as saying that a large number of students in the school are well treated.
Many other Muslim students who do not wish that their names be published for fear of possible backlash from the school authorities have said the VC is being economical with the truth. For instance, some of them cited an instance of forbiddance of observance of Muslim daily prayers in the school. They said attempts to use makeshift places for prayers have always been met with harsh actions from the agents of the school. They say the school only makes a-once-in-a-week political Jumaht attendance at Adeleke mosque in the town, a case of spoiling the students for six days and trying to show the world they are well treated for just a day, this investigation discovers.
It would be recalled that this website carried the story of a female Muslim student who had to leave the university when she was refused the use of Hijab. There are many other cases of Muslim students leaving the school in the face of intimidation.
To an outside world, Adeleke University depicts the look of a secular private university but which findings have shown is doctrinally a Seventh Day Adventist Church University.