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20 November 2017
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC), Oyo state chapter, strongly condemns the recent police repression and brutalization of innocent students and staff of the Federal College of Agriculture, (FCA) and Institute for Agricultural Research and Training, (IAR&T), Moor Plantation Ibadan. ERC also demands the immediate and unconditional release of students and workers arrested in connection with a legitimate protest.
The students of the Federal College of Agriculture, Moor Plantation, on the early morning of Monday 13th November, 2017, embarked on a peaceful protest to call on the Federal Government to speed up the process of implementing the report and recommendation of the visitation panel from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development sent to the college between the 6th and 8th November, 2017 for physical assessment. This it is thought will ensure immediate reopening of the college for academic activities. The students want its implementation so as to ensure that the college is immediately and unconditionally re-opened as soon as possible. The protest which took off at around 6:00am at the school main gate was very peaceful without any record of destruction within or outside the college.
However, the arrival of the Nigeria Police personnel deployed to the scene of the protest at the instance of Dr Babajide Adelekan, the embattled provost of the college, and the Oyo State Police Commissioner, turned the peaceful protest of students into a scene of violence. This is quite unfortunate, given the fact that the police officers are meant protect lives and properties including the protesting students. Instead, the men of the Nigeria police, many of whose conducts were not different from hoodlums, were busy firing tear gas at protesting students, chasing them around the campus with stones and later resorted to direct shooting at the students.
In the process of this barbaric display by the Nigeria Police, two students of FCA and two staffs of IAR&T were shot, with another student of FCA stabbed with an axe by one of the police officers. Several other students, including staffs of IAR&T, were brutalized by the police officers and were arrested in a manner similar to abduction and taken away to their station. Thereafter, an armoured vehicle was deployed into the school and its surrounding community in a manner to akin to war zone. Students and workers were randomly arrested at the hostels and staff quarters belonging to the Institute for Agricultural research and training, IAR&T.
The ERC, Oyo State, strongly condemns this brutalization of students and the use of force and coercion to arrest innocent students of FCA who are peacefully protesting against continuous closure of their school by the Dr Adelekan–led administration and demanding for its immediate and unconditional reopening.
Thje ERC holds the embattled Provost of the College, Dr. Adenekan, and the Oyo State Commissioner of Police responsible for all these dastardly actions of the armed police men. At the same time, we demand immediate constitution of a public panel of enquiry to probe into the criminal conducts of the Nigeria police men involved in the barbaric and repressive show of shame. We equally hold that members of this public panel of enquiry should include democratically elected representatives of students of FCA, FCA staff, IAR&T staff, and the workers' unions in FCA and IAR&T.
In conclusion, ERC salutes the courage of both students and workers of FCA for the level of resilience that they have so far displayed in the struggle for improved welfare conditions and proper and adequate funding of the college. However, it is high time the generality of students and ranks and file members of the workers unions recognize the importance of a united front in a struggle of this nature which is surest way the aspiration of students and workers for an improvement in both the welfare conditions and funding of public education can be met. Finally, ERC calls for solidarity support of the wider labour movement in Oyo state and public including parents and guardians for the ongoing struggle of workers and student in FCA, Ibadan.