AUTHORITY-SPONSORED ATTACKS ON SOCIALIST STUDENTS IN OAU
AUTHORITY-SPONSORED ATTACKS ON SOCIALIST STUDENTS IN OAU
We demand immediate reinstatement of Adeleke Olorunwa Emmanuel (Goddey)
In what qualified as a massive witch-hunt of student socialists, pro-management officials of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Students’ Union have launched violent attacks on members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) and other left organisations on the campus. About ten members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) were brutally assaulted and beaten while the campus secretariat of the organisation was burnt with loss of personal and organizational properties worth hundreds of thousand of naira. Also, members of another left group, Congress of Progressive Youth (COPY) were not spared in the violent attacks which started on Monday 12 July 2010 and peaked on Tuesday 13 July 2010.
The University management, instead of protecting the lives of the comrades, detained these victims of physical assault, at the University Security post and the Police Station ostensibly for “protective custody” but there, they were further subjected to another round of assault by some principal officials of the university.
Comrade Adeleke Olorunwa Emmanuel (a.k.a Goddey) who is a member of the DSM and contested on the platform of the organisation for president in the last Student Union elections has now been placed on indefinite suspension while some other comrades as well as some members of COPY have been issued letters by the University Authorities to keep away from campus. The excuse of the University Authorities for restricting them from entering the University was that their life was in danger while making no effort to arrest and discipline their assailants. This has clearly shown that the University Management endorsed this attack.
The rightwing Union officials led this attack on behalf of the Management because of their intolerance of DSM’s constant criticism of their inability to fight uncompromisingly for adequate welfare conditions and against education commercialization.
The attacks started on Monday, 12 July 2010 at about 8pm when the President of the students union Paul Alaje led a mob to the room of comrade Adeleke Olorunwa (GODDEY) ostensibly in search of one Segun Meroyi Matthew (a.k.a Bombata) who was alleged to have used hot pressing iron to burn another student who was apprehended for stealing. The University Students’ Union has a tradition called “Maximum Shishi” in which fellow students discipline themselves for misdemeanours like stealing without recourse to the University Security. Over the years, this method which was designed to counter the menace of campus cultism has degenerated into a controversial system of jungle justice.
It was the excuse of searching for Segun Meroyi that the Union officials used to launch attacks on the organisation. Meanwhile, Segun Meroyi is not a member of the DSM nor was he found in the rooms of any of DSM members. According to Segun Meroyi later in his confessions before the Osun State Assistant Commissioner of Police, he did not go to Adeleke Olorunwa’s room but went to the room of the two union officials (the Union Speaker and PRO) who told him to run away. Interestingly, these two union officials were part of those who led the attacks against DSM members and secretariat!
That very night, the Union officials started spreading lies that the Union president had been charmed by DSM members and was lying critically ill at the hospital. The point must be made that as socialists, the DSM does not believe in voodoo nor do we employ individual terrorism and assault as a method of achieving our objectives. As dialectical materialists, we rely on the efficacy of science as opposed to fetishism. At the same time, the fact that some students and principal University officials actually believed this lie graphically demonstrates the collapse of scientific thinking in Nigeria’s education system. In any case, the aim of this propaganda was to use falsehood to mobilize students against the organisation. The next day, the union officials led a mob to assault members of the organisation and to burn the secretariat in the full glare of the Dean of Students Affairs Dr Mrs L M Durosinmi.
Hurt by the constant media interest in the matter and protest letters from the sections of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) and trade unions and activists locally and internationally, the University Management in an attempt to appear neutral set up an investigative panel to probe the cause of the violent attacks. The panel was set up undemocratically and its members were handpicked from trusted acolytes of the vice chancellor. About 37 students were invited including the right wing union officials and their thugs and about 13 members of the DSM as well as some members of Copy.
The DSM comrades appeared on Wednesday 18th August 2010 in the presence of a lawyer. The actions and inactions of the Management during and after the attack have shown that this panel is just a tool to legitimise the attack. For instance, the panel was set up after the Management had suspended Adeleke Olorunwa Emmanuel (A DSM member) for “assaulting the Union President” and restricted other DSM members from campus. Adeleke Olorunwa Emanuel who was assaulted during the attacks and hospitalised yet has now been accused of assaulting the Union president without any investigation. This shows that the Management has reached a predetermined conclusion already. What then is the job of the panel? What else is it investigating?
Interestingly, none of the principal officers of the University accused of aiding the attacks in a petition written by the DSM and submitted to the Vice Chancellor several weeks before the constitution of the panel were invited to appear before the panel to explain their roles. This petition exposed the despicable roles of these principal university officers the attacks. For instance, the Dean of Student Affairs Dr. (Mrs) L.M Durosinmi actually ordered and planned the attacks with the right wing union officials while Prof. Fabayo (Chairman University Security Committee), Mr. Yinka Salami (Chief Security Officer) and Prof. Adesanya (Deputy Vice Chancellor Administration) leg-chained, kicked and assaulted already injured DSM members at the University security post. Prof. Fabayo also ordered the university security operatives to forcefully remove the comrades in hospital beds at OAUTH and return them to university detention camp where they spent almost 48 hours without access to medical treatment.
It should be recalled that this is not the first time the university has been found culpable in the brutal attack on socialist and left activists who challenge their despotic administrative style and anti-student policies. On July 10, 1999, some campus cultists widely believed to have been sponsored by then vice-chancellor Wale Omole stormed the university and killed Yemi Iwilade Afrika students’ union secretary general, Tunde Oke a.k.a Sabo (A member of DSM) and three other students while numerous others were injured. The only difference now is that it is the students’ union leadership that has been employed to carry out the attack and so far nobody has been killed. Though, the cruel way Tunde Dairo (Barry Blacky) was thrown down from a third storey shows that they did not care if any comrade had been killed or permanently deformed
The aim of this attack is to proscribe the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) and other radical groups on campus in order to weaken students’ spirit of resistance and plough the ground for the unchallenged implementation of neo-liberal and anti-poor education policies. Already, the pro-management students’ union officers, at a gathering on July 13 in the presence of some principal officers of the university, have proclaimed proscription of ideological organisations on the campus. This fascistic pronouncement, which violates the provisions of Nigerian Constitution, has since been disregarded by students and the targeted organisations which have continued their legitimate activities on the campus. It is instructive to state that the DSM has existed on the campus under different names for almost 30 years and produced a string of radical leaders. Besides, the better part of this period was under military absolutism, and yet the organisation was not banned.
Despite this attack, the DSM shall continue to campaign for the provision of free, functional and democratically-managed public education and for the creation of a socialist society. We shall also continue to defend the rights of students to adequate welfare provision on campus. We however reiterate our demand for an independent panel of inquiry made up of representative of staff unions, civil society organisations and parents to be set up to investigate the attacks. We demand immediate reinstatement of comrade Adeleke Olorunwa Emmanuel a.k.a Goddey. We also call for full compensation for all looted and destroyed properties and prosecution of all those who played active role in the attacks.
For more details on the unprovoked attacks on DSM and left organisations, please visit www.socialistnigeria.org