By Dafe Rukevwe
The Chairman, Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR), Comr. Prince Taiga, has backed the call by Urhobo youths under the aegis of Urhobo Progress Union (UPU), Youth Wing, for the removal of Professor Victor Peretomode as Vice Chancellor, Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka over his refusal to disengage Deogratas, the security outfit fingered in the murder of a 300 level student of the institution by ritualists.
Speaking to Oasis Magazine (OM) during a phone conversation, the CDHR boss disclosed that during the protest by Urhobo youths which have been postponed to January when DELSU students return from holidays, the rights group would join in shutting down the university if the VC fails to yield to the demands of Urhobo youths that include disengaging Deogratas security outfit.
His words: “If Deogratas are not disengaged such ritual killings are likely to continue. If DELSU fails to disengage them, there will be a massive protest and the whole school will be shut down with all environmental laws defiled.
“If the management refuses to disengage them, then I think there is a conspiracy amongst them to be using our students for rituals.”
According to him, policemen are raiding Abraka and arresting internet fraudsters (many of whom are ritualists) to Asaba and later granting them bail with huge amount of money.
He commended the UPU youth executive for taking up the fight to pressure DELSU management to do what is right.
Continuing, he noted that Peretomode has come to destroy DELSU, saying that Uduaghan who appointed him as VC was to blame.
He said: “Peretomode doesn’t behave like an academic at all. Recently he tried to stop some graduates of the institution from going for their National Youth Service Corps over discrepancies in the age they declared with what was in the certificates they submitted.
“I had to put a call to him and told him that he would face the law if he does not allow them to go for their service. That was when he then allowed them to go. We urge the government not to renew his tenure when it ends. We even want the state government to remove him immediately.”
Meanwhile, executive members of UPU Youth Wing, yesterday, visited the Ovie of Oruarivie-Abraka Kingdom, HRM Akpomeyoma Majoroh, Ojeta II.
During an exclusive interview with OM, Comr. Louis Emuobonuvie Anidi, President, UPU Youth Wing, disclosed that the visit was made to receive firsthand information from the monarch regarding the relationship between DELSU management and the host community, saying that from what they gathered from both the youths and the monarch, DELSU is not carrying out their cooperate social responsibility to Abraka.
He disclosed that the protest will come in January, saying that the 7-day ultimatum giving to the management to disengage Deogratas has expired and that the VC tried to play a fast one on them by asking students to go on holidays.
He continued: “We have written to him for dialogue and I even learnt that the community has done same too. But the condition he gave us is that the community will not be present if he must meet with UPU. It cannot work that way.”
He listed their demands to DELSU to include disengaging Deogratas, giving job opportunities to indigenous contractors in fulfillment of her cooperate social responsibilities and giving admission to the host community.
Furthermore, he said: “The VC chooses to do what he pleases and does not have a single regard for the monarch and I know he cannot do this in his own community. We will ask the VC to live Abraka and call on the government of the day or the Governing Council to give us another VC if he continues to do what he likes.
“The VC must yield and bow to our demands. School will resume soon and we will continue from where we stopped about the issue of a massive protest.”
Also, the 2nd Vice President of the youth body, Comr. Bayo Eyube, who is also an indigene of Abraka and a former youth president of the kingdom, said that UPU youth executive paid the youths of the community a visit in respect of the marginalization of the community in many ways, saying that the VC failed to implement the local content law that favours the host community.
“A lot of persons have been feeling the pain, but we had no one to bare the cart.
But, thank God that today the UPU has come to wipe away our tears in order to stop this oppression,” he averred.
He said: “We don’t have employments, admission for our youths and a running contract from the management.
“In the north they beg students to come and learn. Here we have a lot of graduates that don’t have a job. He gives our job slots to the Itsekiris, Aniomas and the Ijaws and so what is our benefit.
“Before now, no one has stood up to correct this oppression. The VC operates a system of divide and rule. We want to stop this oppression so that any other VC coming in will not tow this line.”
He added: “If the VC does not have interest in Deogratas, he would have long disengaged them.”
On his part, the group’s secretary, Comr. Efemena Umukoro, stressed that the UPU’s mandate includes defending, protecting and promoting the interest of Urhobo communities.
“All we are asking for is that Deogratas security be disengaged because we do not know if there are other ex-convicts amongst them,” he stressed.
He called on parents to add their voice to this call, saying that in Nigeria our institutions must learn to prevent crime, as he called on the state government to call the VC to order.
According to him, if not that the students were asked to vacate, Urhobo youths were prepared to hold the mother of all protests and shut down the school immediately after the 7-day ultimatum expired.
He opined that the VC is not competent enough to protect the lives of the students.
To DELSU management, he said: “Disengage Deogratas security outfit, respect the host community and stakeholders and then we can all live as one.”
Umukoro said that Peretomode’s threat of using military force to quell the planned protest was laughable.
Furthermore, he said: “We are mobilizing the entire Urhobo structure for that protest. Does he think he can insult our monarchs, chiefs and youths and go scot free? He has overstayed his welcome and he must live.”