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7 November 2017
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) calls on the Prof. Eyitope Ogunmodede-led management of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile- Ife to immediately rescind its recent decision to proscribe the Students' Union in the interest of peace and progress of the university.
We also demand the recall of ERC National Secretary, Comrade Omole Ibukun and three (3) other student activists who were recently placed on indefinite suspension by the University administration for simply complaining about the poor welfare conditions of the hostels.
OAU is being gradually turned into a military barrack where dissent is a crime. Staff unions, the labour movement, Civil Society Organizations and NGOs must not watch and allow Prof. Ogunmodede turn the nation's clock back to the days of military dictatorship. As we write, several students have been injured by over fifty (50) security men armed with cudgels and sledge hammers sent by the University Vice Chancellor, yesterday Monday 6 November 2017, to enforce the proscription by closing down the union office. There are no words to describe the latest action of the University administration other than tyrannical, despotic, undemocratic and unacceptable.
For avoidance of doubt, we must point out that the Prof. Ogunmodede-led University authorities went beyond their powers in proscribing the Students' Union. The existence of Students Unionism is guaranteed by relevant provisions of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended). As such, no Vice Chancellor has the power to pronounce a Students' Union banned the same way same cannot be done to the staff unions. Against this background, the action of the management of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) is therefore illegal, null and void and a reckless abuse of authority.
To be clear, the reason for the proscription of the Union was because the mass of students had the courage to impeach the Union President, Dr. IBK who happened to be a close friend of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ogunmodede, for various acts of infraction of the union constitution and misdemeanor including misappropriation of union funds, gross negligence and inability to defend students interests and hiring of cultists to assault innocent students on November 1st 2017.
We call on the Federal Government and in particular the visitor to the University, President Muhammadu Buhari, to call the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ogunmodede, to order before he turns OAU into a military garrison. So far over, about eight (8) undergraduate and postgraduate students of the University have been suspended since Prof. Ogunmodede's appointment as the Vice Chancellor of the University. For a Vice Chancellor who has not spent up to seven (7) months in office, Prof. Ogunmodede has clearly shown by all his actions so far that his administration is bound to be one under which all democratic rights enjoyed by students and workers in the university community would be forcefully taken away.
The proscription of the Students' Union following the action taken by the mass of students to democratically remove the union president only goes to show what we have always alleged which is that the university administration is unnecessarily meddling in the affairs of the Students' Union with a view to control it. As far as we are concerned, independent unionism is a right. Students have a right to pilot their union affairs as they like and to punish their erring union officers.
We hereby charge the students movement, staff unions, the labour movement, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and civil society groups to rise up to resist the emerging tyranny in OAU by demanding immediate restoration of the students union and recall of suspended student activists.