The vice-chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Omoniyi Adewoye, has angered his traditionally conservative senate by allegedly becoming personally involved in the arrest of three senate members, including the chairman of the local branch of the university lecturers' union.
The three - Jimi Adesina, branch chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities at Ibadan and a senior lecturer in industrial and labour relations, Wole Abatan, a senior lecturer in veterinary pharmacy and Chris Uroh, a lecturer in philosophy - were accused of holding illegal meetings with the aim of destabilising the military government.
The vice-chancellor categorically denied any involvement in the arrests.
But senate members openly expressed disappointment at Professor Adewoye's role after Moji Ladipo, Ibadan's registrar, tears rolling down her cheeks, told the senate: "It was at the vice-chancellor's lodge that I was instructed by the vice-chancellor to invite the state security services into the campus."
The arrested men gave a graphic account of their arrest. "We were detained in a bare cell which was waterlogged and had urine and what looked like human excrement smeared on the walls and floors," said Mr Adesina.
"We were stripped of our pants, belts, shoes and other personal possessions," declared Mr Abatan.
"When I refused to give a written statement until I could see my lawyers, the director of state security services threatened my life if I did not comply," said Mr Uroh.
Neither the vice-chancellor nor the registrar could explain to the senate hearing why the security agents had come on to campus to order senate members to report to the State Security Services Office.
Neither could they explain why the registrar sent written instructions to Mr Adesina ordering him to halt a legally convened union meeting and report immediately to the state security director.
The senate was convinced that the arrests came about because the university authorities wanted to silence union leaders over criticisms of the university administration and of Professor Adewoye.
The latest edition of The Academic, the union's newsletter, questioned the diversion of funds from Ibadan's postgraduate school in contravention of recommendations by a panel set up by the vice-chancellor; the way a $23,500 contract was awarded to a private firm for a study on the potential use of a dam for the university's water supply instead of university geologists and engineers; and a contract for $310,000 to repair the fire-damaged arts faculty annexe.
The newsletter also expressed concern at the damage and inconvenience caused by repeated breaks in power supplies.
It said: "This edition of The Academic draws the line in the sand. The honeymoon is over!" Later the union's local branch passed resolutions in support of the senate, seeking guarantees of personal safety and security of all members of the university community and demanding that no academic or student would again be handed over to security agents or victimised by the university administration.