ERC DEMANDS IMMEDIATE AND UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE OF YAHUZA TIJJANI
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) vehemently condemns the illegal arrest and detention of Yahuza Tijjani, a 200 level student of the Department of Science and Technology Education, Bayero University, Kano (BUK). He was arrested on 30th September, 2019 for allegedly criticizing a lawmaker representing Madobi Local Government Area in the Kano State Assembly. He has since that time been under detention.
That a lawmaker could be so intolerant of criticism that he connived with security agents to secure the arrest and incarceration of his critic again reflects an element of the growing despotism of the Buhari All Progressive Congress (APC) government. Under this government, basic rights to freedom of expression and association are being routinely attacked. In many ways, Nigeria is plunging backwards to the darks days of military absolutism, where the slightest expression of dissent means long incarceration or death.
We have also learnt that attempts to secure Yahuza Tijanni’s bail was reportedly frustrated by one Aminu Garba, a Magistrate at Court 72, Noman’s Land Kano, through stringent bail conditions and interminable adjournments of hearing of the case. Consequently, Mr. Yahuza missed his second semester examinations at BUK and, therefore, risks expulsion from the University.
This, apparently, constitutes a violation of his rights that has been guaranteed by section 39 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Nigeria is a signatory. Also, it defeats the essence of education when students’ free expression is being repressed, and, therefore, making any critical thought impossible. This is obviously not a democratic way to deal with criticisms that are meant to be considered and used to advance the society.
It is not surprising that our security agencies that have woefully failed to protect the lives and property of Nigerians – which is their fundamental constitutional responsibility – are now being used by our ruling elites to suppress freedom of speech. More so, they do so with active connivance of the Judiciary, which is often touted to be the last resort to everyday Nigerian. This confirms that the state and its apparatuses be they the security agencies and the judiciary are in the final analysis bodies set up to defend and protect the interest of the capitalist ruling elite.
The ERC is concerned about the ruthless assault on the democratic and civil rights of the Nigerian students all over the country. Recently, a student was expelled from the Taraba State University for allegedly criticizing the State Governor. Nationwide, we oppose the harassment of students by school security, police, campus marshals over their political opinions both online and offline. There seems to be unprecedented attempts by governments at all levels to suppress dissent, as if Nigeria is no longer a democratic society. This is more evident in the ongoing efforts by the Nigerian Government to impose another version of the infamous Decree 4 under the guise of the Hate Speech Bill. Criminalizing dissent in a democratic setting is a recipe to dictatorship.
The ERC is also concerned about the seeming silence of the Students’ Union, Bayero University Kano (BUK) chapter and the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) over this matter. They must prove that they are up and doing on the infringement of the democratic and civil rights of the Nigerian Students.
The ERC hereby makes the following demands:
1. Mr. Yahuza Tijjani should be immediately and unconditionally be released from detention.
2. SUG-BUK, NANS and other civil society organizations should wade into the matter with a view to ensure that the victim gets justice. SUG-BUK must organize a peaceful protest to deliver their grievance to the Nigeria Police, Kano State Command; Kano State Assembly; and the Chief Judge, Kano State.
3. The Senate of BUK should compassionately grant Mr. Yahuza Tijjani incomplete status for his second semester, level 200.
4. An independent and mass based students’ unionism that can resist all victimizations of students and workers’ activists across campuses
5. Free, public-funded, and democratically-managed education at all levels
Finally, we call on Nigerian students to join the ERC to protect their democratic rights, demand for improved living conditions on their campuses and free, quality and democratically-managed public education.
Hassan Taiwo Soweto