Dr. Rahmat Zakariya, a lecturer at the Department of Microbiology, University of Ilorin, made national and international headlines this week when her story went viral after a student, Waliyullah Salaudeen, attacked her following alleged disagreement over SIWES programme.
In this exclusive interview with Daily Trust, she narrated her side of the story which has been missing from the dominant narrative out there about the incident. She also clarified what she termed misconceptions about the whole issue. Excerpts
There have been several reports out there about the incident, what is your own side of the story?
Thank you very much. Let me first point out the loopholes from the stories that had gone viral. When I was giving my statement to the police after what transpired, I was told he (Waliyullah) didn’t deny any of my account.
He was reported to have said you threw a mug at him when he entered your office, how true is that?
The story of me throwing a mug at him is baffling to me. What chance did I have? There was none. This was someone who barged into my office and was saying I sent someone to kill him. He was banging on my table and punching me. So, how is it possible for me to throw a mug at him?
What is your relationship with him?
I have seen a lot of publications that said that I’m his Level Adviser and supervisor. But none of this is true. I’m neither his Level Adviser nor Supervisor, I’m just a lecturer at the department and the SIWES Coordinator.
When did your contact with him over this issue start?
If at all we had contact prior to that day, November 11th, 2021, it was when he met me to tell me that he didn’t do his SIWES, that he only spent a month at the programme and I asked him why didn’t he complete it. He said he was ill. I told him to get his medical report to show that he was truly ill and take it to where he did his SIWES, he could be lucky and they may be compassionate enough if he was diligent when he was there to help him endorse the remaining part of the logbook and he left. He didn’t show up again. Then, I met him again on the university walkway and inquired why I didn’t see him again and if he has gotten his medical report. He said he had sent for it but he was yet to receive it. I was wondering why medical report will become such an issue if truly he was sick. Then about two days after, I met him with his Level Adviser and I said he has to re-register SIWES. But the level adviser only smiled when I was giving him the way around it.
How does the University SIWES operates?
Normally, if you register SIWES for second semester, the person will not be able to do other courses again because there won’t be any opportunity to add any other course. So, l said he should register for the programme but he will be doing his project and the SIWES at where we can monitor him at the Medical Research Lab very close to the department. I then told the level adviser to liaise with the director to make a placement for him. You see, he had carry overs in lower level courses because he is actually a weak student. So, by this arrangement, he will be able to do his carry over courses for first semester and next year when he comes back, he wouldn’t have a huge workload. He will just register for the project. That was the advice I gave to him and this happened like six months ago, maybe late April or early May when the university just resumed. The SIWES has the largest unit required to bag a Bsc – 6 credits, which is larger than project. So, we had to start a new modality of grading the student because it is not possible that we will just be awarding them free marks. We now said after they submit their log book, they are going to do the presentation of everything they experienced during the programme. The funny thing is that we just adopted it this session. This was how our contact started in the first place.
Didn’t he come for presentation?
There were lots of students that came for the presentation which is about forty marks