It was an historic moment, as the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Professor Ololade Enikuomehin, was joined by the Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Illyasu, to lay the foundation stone for the FUNAAB Adjoining Communities Police Station, meant to forestall the lingering cases of theft and burglary within the precincts of the University campus. Speaking at the venue, located at the Harmony Estate, near the University main gate, the Acting Vice-Chancellor stated that FUNAAB students constituted the largest number of individuals inhabiting the adjoining communities.
Professor Enikuomehin stressed that the University was aware that the economic value of the community was based on the presence of the students, saying “If they are not here, there would be nothing to talk about. Therefore, we should learn to balance it. While curbing the social vices, the students should be accommodated because of the positive side of their presence”. The Acting Vice-Chancellor assured that the University would do as much as it was obligated to do, to ensure that FUNAAB students were seen in positive light within the neighbourhood, noting that whenever serious issues arose with the students, it should be reported to University authorities. “I would like to plead that if you have issues with them, rather than going to the extreme with the students, please, get across to us. We won’t indulge them. We have rules and regulations that are even guiding off-campus accommodation. We now have a policy that gives us the right to even challenge and penalise students that misbehave even here, because they are still our students”. He reiterated the recent University policy covering the misdemeanour of students staying off-campus, saying that the fact that a student lives in town does not give him/her a leeway to misbehave. According to him, “You can’t fight in Harmony Hostel because you are living outside campus. You’re still covered by the fact that you are our student. Those are the kind of things that we’ve put in place and I want to plead with everyone. Please, bear with them and be open to tell us, as much as we need to hear”.
Earlier, the Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ahmed Illyasu, had stated that each time he heard of community policing, he was always delighted about it, saying that one could only succeed when working with people because people and communities around always know what was happening. He added that, it was in the best interest of police officers to associate or partner with groups, so as to know what was happening in their environment. “Today, we are celebrating a new phase in policing and what we have achieved, under my leadership, we would continue to partner with each and every citizen to push in one accord, what we call micro-policing. We are working even with hunters and we have been achieving much”.
Commenting on the relationship between police officers and FUNAAB students, Mr. IIlyasu stated that the police headquarters had been networking with the students, to foster mutual co-operation, adding that the headquarters would still continue to give support, even after the commissioning exercise. While commending members of the University community, the Commissioner of Police said that “We were once, part of the academia and we believe in what they can do; hence, the reason why we are partnering with you. You are honest partners; people who are willing to serve the needs, yearning and aspirations of people”, while appreciating the University Management for the understanding and for making security a top priority.
The Dean of Student Affairs, Professor Adeniyi Olayanju, further stated that the University Senate had constituted a committee, to formulate relevant policy for off-campus students. According to him, the policy was formulated by the committee, which had two main purposes: security and accommodation, as well as the welfare of all off-campus students. “So what we’re seeing today is one of the components, which is the security of the students. How do you secure off-campus students without a police station or a police divisional headquarters around? The thinking now is; those that are off-campus and on-campus need security. But the ones we’re talking about now are the off-campus students”.
Professor Olayanju, however, sounded a note of warning that the police station does not belong to the residents of any particular community only, but to all the FUNAAB adjoining communities, adding that the building’s name, as a matter of fact, should be referred to as: ‘FUNAAB Adjoining Communities Police Station’. The Dean stated further that “We aren’t securing students in Harmony Estate alone. There are students in other places around and that is why it’s called adjoining communities… Other communities around should have the feeling that the police station is for everyone”.
The Chairman of one of the FUNAAB Adjourning Communities, Harmony Community Development Association, Emmanuel Abu, stated that over 90 per cent of the residents were FUNAAB students, adding that as the number grows, the penchant for youthful exuberance and its attendant attraction of socially-undesirable elements would make the physical presence of formal security services, a necessity. According to him, “An inevitable part of development is an increase in anti-social activities. This event of laying the foundation of a police station was a cumulative outcome of several and previous attempts, to address these and other-related issues”. Abu, who is a retiree of the University, therefore, appreciated the immediate past administration for approving a donation of N15 million, to support the construction of the police station, while commending Professor Kola Adebayo, the Director, Grants Management of the University, for donating the four plots of land on which the police station was being built.
The Chairman, Police Community Relations’ Committee (PCRC), Obantoko Division, Honourable Taiwo Akinlabi, has charged all to contribute their quotas to effective policing in their various domains, by supporting the police in their areas, through the provision of useful information, capable of tracking criminals before the commission of crimes. Honourable Akinlabi, however, solicited for a robust collaboration with the police through the PCRC, saying that it was an arm of the Nigeria Police Force that was ever willing to embark on mutually-rewarding partnerships with collaborators.