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22 March 2018
Repression at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun state, has taken a new turn with the arrest of five (5) student activists and their remand in prison custody for protesting against the forceful eviction of students from their hostels.
The five (5) student activists are: Gbenga Oloninikan (Chairman, Great Ife Students Union Action Committee), Oyedeji Samson, Jimoh Oladipupo, Adeniji John and Olajide Ademola. They are members of an Action Committee, formed at a congress and composed by representatives of left organizations (including the DSM) and radical students, which has been acting in the absence, since last year, of a students' union to organize students to resist attacks.
The students were arrested on Wednesday 21 March 2018 while protesting against attempts by the authorities of the University to forcefully evict from hostels students who stayed back on campus during the break to undergo Teaching Practice and Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES). They have been remanded at the medium security prison, Kosere Ile-Ife, after appearing before Hon. Magistrate F.1 Omisade at the Magistrate Court Ife today, Thursday 22 March 2018.
But their travail is actually part of a long process of orchestrated assault on the fundamental rights of students by the despotic Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Ogunmodede, and members of his kitchen cabinet who are hell bent on silencing dissent voices on the campus. So far several students, who have either spoken out against fee hike or participated in protest actions over bad welfare conditions, have been suspended. In October 2017, Education Rights Campaign (ERC) National Secretary Omole Ibukun and other student activists were suspended and the Students Union banned following a students' protest against poor welfare conditions.
We call for protest letters and messages to condemn the arrest and demand the immediate release of the five students. The letters should also demand the unconditional reinstatement of the ERC National Secretary, Omole Ibukun and all victimized students activists of the University, restoration of the proscribed students union and a halt to all attacks on democratic rights.
The five (5) students were arraigned on trumped up 3-count charges (misdemeanor, breach of peace and assault) today, Thursday 22 March 2018, before Hon. Magistrate F.I. Omisade of the Magistrate Court Ife, who remanded them in prison after granting them bail with onerous conditions attached including two (2) sureties on grade level 14 with five hundred thousand naira (N500, 000) bail bond each. These onerous conditions are meant to keep them in prison for as long as possible.
The conditions are also disproportionate to the charges levelled against these five students and show to what extent the police and the judiciary in Osun State have been seriously compromised by the OAU authorities in its bid to ensure that these five activists are kept behind bars.
This is not new. The OAU authorities have a history of using the police and the court to clamp students and workers' leaders in prison on trumped up charges. A few weeks ago, the chairman of the University's branch of the Non Academic Staff Union (NASU) was arrested and treated in the same manner for enforcing a national strike of the union for payment of earned allowance.
The arrest and detention of the five (5) student activists bring to a turning point the litany of attacks on democratic rights in the University. If the public does not act now, Prof. Ogunmodede will turn OAU into a slave camp. We call on staff unions, student unions, the labour movement, civil society organizations and members of the public to call University authorities to order and to demand: