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30 November 2017
On 7th October, 2017, the authorities of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) indefinitely suspended four student activists including Omole Ibukun, National Secretary of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) – a platform formed by the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) to campaign against education underfunding, fee hikes and attacks on the democratic rights of students and workers.
Their crime was their participation in students' congress of 4th October, 2017 where students resolved to protest against non-supply of electricity to hostels and academics for almost a week. The peaceful protest which was held on 5th and 6th October, 2017, was repressed by university security outfit with 10 students brutalized, arrested and detained at police station.
Earlier, four (4) postgraduate students have had their studentship terminated for participating in a peaceful agitation of postgraduate students over fraudulent extortion and unnecessary administrative delay by the university.
This means that in less 4 months of assuming office as the Vice-Chancellor Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede has rusticated eight (8) students over democratic right of protest.
As if this was not enough, the university authorities unilaterally and undemocratically proscribed the activities of the students' union because the students collectively and democratically impeached some of the union officers who are working for the authorities against the interests of students.
In an attempt to seal this proscription, the University's Security Unit was mobilized to close down the students' union building. In the process, many students were injured by the heavily armed security men.
Currently, staff of the university are on mass strike over non-payment of several months' arrears of allowances, which the university owes them.
Please send a protest message the following principal officers of the university
Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ogunbodede: 08037195770
Registrar, OAU, Mr. Awoyemi: 08033857858, 08054428510, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dean, Students' Affairs, Prof. Aransi: 08034053801
Please also copy the message to email@example.com
I hereby call on authorities of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife to reinstate Omole Ibukun and 7 other student activists who were suspended for participating in separate peaceful protests for better welfare conditions in the university and against exploitation of postgraduate students. These students are part of the generality of students who embarked on legitimate struggle to defend the rights to a just and decent academic system and environment. I call on the authorities of Obafemi Awolowo University to address the issues raised by these students, rather than making scapegoats among them. Dissent views and rights to protest and assemble are guaranteed in a democratic society.
I hereby call on authorities of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria to reinstate Omole Ibukun and 6 other students who were recently suspended for participating in peaceful protests for improved welfare conditions and against exploitation.
Omole Ibukun is the National Secretary of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) – a platform formed by the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) – an affiliate of the Committee for a Workers International (CWI) - to campaign against education underfunding, fee hikes and attacks on the democratic rights of students and workers.
I recognise that the actions of these students in no way violate the laws and constitution of Nigeria which guarantees the right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. To this extent, the disciplinary actions of the University authorities are not only illegal and a crude violation of their rights; it is equally an attempt to silence opposition to the anti-poor educational policies of the university and the Nigerian government.
Education is a universally recognised fundamental right but successive Nigerian governments have failed to fund it adequately despite the enormous wealth the country has. The result is a low quality and unequal education system with big layers of youth often forced to drop out as a result of rising tuition fees. To have this kind of unequal education system and expect students to tolerate it in silence is absurd.
Obviously, the long term objective of the suspension of students in OAU and the rising wave of repression on campuses is to frighten students and education workers from organising to resist the anti-poor education policies.
I therefore support the call for the recall of the victimised students and a halt to all attacks on democratic rights not only in OAU but on all campuses in Nigeria. I shall do everything within my capacity to mobilise unions, workers and students in support of this campaign until the Nigerian government and the authorities of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) recalls the victimised students and recognise the democratic rights of students and workers to organise to defend their rights.