Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



Reinstate OAU 3!

Restore the Students Union

The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) condemns the arrest, arraignment and remand in prison custody of five (5) student activists of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife on the orders of the Prof. Ogunbodede-led authorities of the University. We demand their immediate and unconditional release from prison custody.

The five (5) students are: Gbenga Oloniniran (Chairman, Great Ife Students Union Action Committee), Oyedeji Samson, Jimoh Oladipupo, Adeniji John and Olajide Ademola.

They 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 of 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. Ogunbodede 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 November 2016, 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 therefore demand the unconditional reinstatement of the ERC National Secretary, Omole Ibukun and all victimized students activists of the University. Also we demand the restoration of the proscribed students union and a halt to all attacks on democratic rights. The ERC calls on the mass of students and workers to begin to mobilize for joint actions involving mass protests and demonstrations until the demands are won.

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 12 and above 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. In particular, we accuse the Osun State Commissioner of Police of using his men as the private thugs of the OAU vice chancellor to harass students and members of staff. 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. Similarly, about a month ago, the Chairman of the University’s branch of the Non Academic Staff Union (NASU) was equally arrested and docked for trying to enforce the national strike of SSANU, NASU and NAAT. This shows the importance of students and workers joining hands to defeat the repression. Otherwise, no one will be spared by the despotic university administration in its agenda to crush all dissent.

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, labour movement, civil society organizations and members of the public to call University authorities to order and to demand the immediate release of the five (5) students, recall of Omole Ibukun and others, restoration of the union and a halt to further attacks on democratic rights.