Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

OAU: Authorities Plan To Victimise Activists Campaigning For Restoration of Banned Union

OAU: Authorities Plan To Victimise Activists Campaigning For Restoration of Banned Union

Appeal for protest letters and solidarity

Jolted by the successful boycott of lectures on 5 December 2012, the authorities of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, have unveiled plans to victimise 12 student activists. 4 of them are members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) – CWI Nigeria. They are Odunayo Eniayekan (Secretary DSM OAU Branch), Olubanji Oluwole (Secretary ERC OAU branch), Ibirogba Samuel and Adebale Kehinde.

In January this year, the activists returned to campus after the yuletide holiday to find query letters dated 27 December 2012 awaiting them. The management chose this period deliberately. Students are to start the semester examinations on 7 January eliminating the possibility of mass protest developing. The query letters too, whether or not the allegations can be justifiably proved, can be used to prevent the activists from writing the semester examinations. They can also be suspended or expelled!

According to the query letters, the 12 activists must explain in writing within 48 hours why disciplinary actions should not be taken against them for purportedly committing the following crimes:

“(1) against the express directive of the University not to organise or take part in a symposium organised by the Education Right Campaign, not being a registered association in the university, did organize and took part in a symposium organized by the said association on 1st December, 2012 at about 1600 hours at the Awolowo Hall Cafeteria on the University Campus in Ile-Ife.

(2) On 5th December, 2012 at about 0830 hours, with some other persons, attempted to chase other students away from lecture halls, thereby disrupting the academic and social activities on the campus”.

Some of them have also been slammed with a third allegation which claims they “broke into floor “O” of the university hall on the Campus at Ile-Ife, destroyed window panes and physically assaulted Mr. A. V. Adeyemo, one of the security men on duty at the time.”

The symposium referred to was organised by the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) – a platform formed by the DSM to campaign against education attacks – to relaunch a campaign for restoration of the banned union. The success of the symposium, which attracted hundreds of students, frightened the management. An attack by security operatives orchestrated by the management against the invited speakers after the symposium ended turned against it provoking a protest which culminated in the 5th December boycott.

This whole query is vindictive. Out of desperation to victimize student activists the management is prepared to brazenly criminalize the basic democratic rights of students to freedom of association and assembly. It is an attempt to get back at those who consistently laboured to awaken students to confront the management.

It was not for nothing that the University Management issued this query on 27 December 2012 several days after the University had been officially closed for Christmas and New Year break. The whole game is simple. Even if many of the wild allegations cannot be justifiably proved anywhere to hang these activists, the Management would be happy if they could still use the excuse of the query to prevent them from writing the semester examinations starting on January 7 2013. And they are banking on the fact that students would be too concerned with preparation for examinations to think about protesting this victimisation. This ploy of the management to victimize activists has further demonstrated their insincerity towards restoring the union.

The whole purpose of this new attack is to claw back the gains already made by students in the struggle to restore their banned union since the 5th December 2013 boycott. The management had been forced during the boycott to concede to restore the union. A Students Transition Committee (STC) has been set up by the management with the mandate to organise elections. Although set up undemocratically and filled with management’s loyalists, the DSM supports the mandate of the committee which corresponds with students yearnings.

However since 5 December when the committee was set up, nothing concrete has been heard from it. If anyone had illusions, the current attempt to victimize activists completely confirms that the management has no intention to restore the union until when forced by students through mass protest and lecture boycott. The DSM has issued a leaflet condemning the attempted victimisation and calling on students to step up pressure on the STC to fulfill its mandate which is to organise elections into a democratic and independent union.

We appeal to all sections of the CWI, trade unions, staff unions, students unions and activists in Nigeria and internationally to condemn this attack on democratic rights of students to organise. Protest letters can be forwarded to the following

Email addresses: [email protected], [email protected]
and copy sent to [email protected].

You can also call or send text messages to the following numbers: University’s Vice Chancellor- 08037211502, Registrar- 08034970823.

Peluola Adewale
DSM Lagos