Academic activities at the Oleh campus of the Delta State University were, on Monday morning, halted by some aggrieved sacked workers of the institution who are members of the Oleh Community in the Isoko South council area of the state.
The protesters, who stormed the university community about 6:15am, blocked the campus’s main entrance housing the Law and Engineering faculties, demanding for the reinstatement of the sacked workers.
It was gathered that the son of the traditional ruler of the community, Prince Obrozie Ovrawah, who is one of the sacked workers, led other staff who were recently dismissed from the services of the institution and some community members on the protest.
A source at the Oleh campus said on Monday that Ovrawah was dismissed recently over alleged misconduct.
The aggrieved ex-workers, while describing their sack as illegal, accused the vice-chancellor, Prof Victor Peretimode, of playing ethnic politics by allegedly sacking Isoko indigenes and secretly replacing them with his kinsmen from Ijaw ethnic nationalities.
A source said, “The Odiologbo’s son (Ovrawah) was a staff at the Oleh campus of DELSU and was fired for alleged misconduct. It was alleged that he mobilised members of the community to protest the sacking of Isoko people. Some private security staff that were also suspended by their employer also joined the protest.
“They barricaded the main entrance of the school early this morning, preventing workers and students from gaining access to the school. But security agents drafted to the area at about 10am were able to disperse the protesters.”
Ovrawah said that he and other protesters decided to shut the school gate to protest alleged impunity by the university authorities over the dismissal of four security personnel for allowing him to enter the school premises.
He said, “We came here to protest impunity by the university VC who ordered the sack of our brothers. The four security officers are from this community. Their offence is for allowing me to enter the campus to drop my children for school because I sued the school authority for my illegal dismissal. Unlike other campus, the VC brought an Ijaw man to be the Chief Security officer when it is the right of our people (Isoko) to do such a job.”
But when contacted, President-General of Oleh Community, James Obeuwou, while confirming the incident, distanced the community from protest.
Obeuwou said, “We are not part of the protest. We cannot block the entrance to our own school. I learnt that a set of aggrieved persons who were recently sacked and some others who were suspended from their duty posts were behind the protest.
“The security personnel were not full staff of the institution. They were employees of a private security company and were suspended for what I don’t know at the moment. But l can tell you categorically that Oleh community was not a party to the protest.”
The Public Relations Officer, DELSU, Eddy Agbure, declined to comment when contacted on Monday.