Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



Call for Solidarity Actions

By Ogundele Michael (ERC National Secretary)

Comrade Sumbo Badmus, the Secretary of the Polytechnic of Ibadan branch of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) and HND II Student of the department of Business Administration has been suspended for two semesters (one academic session) by the management of the polytechnic.

The management claims in the Letter of Suspension, which was dated March 25 2015 but received by Sumbo on April 14, that Badmus was invited to appear before the Students’ Disciplinary Committee (SDC) to defend himself on “allegation of assault, unruly behavior, constitution of unregistered group [i.e. ERC] and flagrant disobedience to the school authority which are considered as gross misconduct”. This is a blatant lie.

The invitation to Badmus to appear before the Students Disciplinary Committee on March 17, 2015 and which was dated March 12,2015 (and not March 13,2015 as stated in the Letter of Suspension) simply stated “Re: Alleged Misconduct” without specifying the offences that constituted the “Alleged Misconduct”. As a result, his lawyer, Ola Adeosun, wrote on his behalf to the management and copied the committee to request the alleged offences and a new date for appearance before the SDC so that he would be able to adequately prepare for his defence. The letter was delivered and was duly acknowledged by the management and secretary of the SDC on March 16, 2015. Nevertheless, out of respect to the management, Badmus went to the SDC sitting on March 17 simply to reiterate his request as contained in the letter written by his lawyer.

We demand the immediate and unconditional reinstatement of Sumbo Badmus. This suspension, which was the culmination of a series of attacks on democratic rights of Badmus including intimidation and arrest, is a clear case of political victimization.

It should be recalled that on March 11, 2015, Sumbo and another member of the ERC were unlawfully arrested by the Polytechnic of Ibadan security officers and handed over to the Police at the instance of the Dean of Students’ Affairs Unit in connivance with the leadership of the students’ union of the institution.

They were arrested because of a statement which was signed by Sumbo Badmus and issued by the branch at the resumption of the ongoing academic session of the institution. This statement painted the gloomy picture of the deplorable nature of the Polytechnic Ibadan owing largely to the problem of poor funding of the education sector by the successive governments in the state. It also urged students to be more active in the day to day running of their union so as to be able to build a union and leadership that can promote and defend the interests and welfare conditions of generality of students as a step towards building a national campaign for adequate and proper funding of the polytechnic education.

Few weeks after the issuance of this statement, precisely on Monday, 16 February 2015, Comrade Sumbo Badmus was served a letter inviting him to a meeting at the Students’ Affairs Unit of the institution which to his chagrin, turned into a panel set up to interrogate him over the statement issued by the ERC. The panel ridiculously alleged that the statement was capable of inciting students against the school management and the state government. The panel also claimed that the ERC lacks the legitimacy to issue statements since the branch is yet to complete its registration process within the institution.

Based on these erroneous allegations, the panel went ahead to force Comrade Sunbo to sign an undertaking prohibiting further activities of the ERC on campus and also threatened to place him under surveillance. The panel also threatened to invite him before Students’ Disciplinary Committee (SDC) should he fail to comply with the undertaking. The height of the anti-democratic decision of the panel was to pronounce the termination of the ERC registration process which was before this time ongoing with the office of the Students’ Affairs Unit.

At the receipt of this panel’s anti-democratic decision which is reminiscent of the inglorious era of military dictatorship, the Oyo state Chapter of ERC wrote a letter to the office of the Dean of Students’ Affairs and copied the students union and workers’ unions on the campus. The purpose of this letter was to debunk the allegation that the ERC was inciting students against either the school management or the state government and also to appeal for the reversal of all the anti-democratic decisions taking by the panel based on the said allegation and claim. In this letter, emphasis was laid on the fact there was no portion of the ERC statement in contention that encouraged any act of violence or unpleasant behavior that can make such to be tagged inciting.

Unfortunately, at the point of delivering the copy of the letter meant for the Students Union, after a successful delivery of the copies meant for the office of the Dean of Student Affairs Unit and workers unions on campus, Comrade Sumbo was apprehended and taken to the school security post. This was at the instance of the leadership of the Student Union which declined the receipt of the letter under the claim that they were criticised in the ERC statement. Subsequently, the Dean of the Student Affairs Unit ordered them to be handed over to the Police. Interestingly, on getting to the Sango Police station, the DPO disregarded the management false claim that the ERC statement in contention was inciting. He went on to affirm that there was nothing incriminating in the two write-ups. As a result he ordered the release of the arrested persons.

However, not satisfied with the decision of the Police, the Polytechnic Management went ahead on Friday 13 March, 2015 to issue a fresh letter to comrade Sumbo inviting him to a Students Disciplinary Committee (SDC) slated to hold on 17 March 2015 over an unspecified allegation of gross-misconduct.

We hold that this politically motivated suspension to Sumbo was meant serve as a deterrent so as to intimidate and create undue fear in the mind of change seeking students of the institution who are increasingly becoming dissatisfied with the state of things on the campus and are seeking for a way out. Many students are also becoming more interested in and attracted to the ERC and its radical ideas which is greatly becoming a big threat to the pro-establishment disposition of both the school administration and the rightwing leadership of the Students Union. This is the major reason the polytechnic authorities and the leadership of the Students Union went into an alliance to ensure that further activities of ERC on the campus are prohibited. In the last four years, members of ERC have been carrying out different open activities to promote and defend the interests and rights of students as well as the staff unions on the campus.

We hereby call on trade unions including the staff unions in the polytechnic, civil society organizations, radical student unions, youth organisations and socialists locally and internationally to help prevail on the management of the Polytechnic of Ibadan to immediately and unconditionally recall Sumbo Badmus, refrain from prohibiting ERC activities on the campus and halt the attacks on democratic rights of students of the institution.

This can be done by organizing activities like solidarity actions and or sending protest letters or messages to the following principal officers of the polytechnic: