Great Ife! It is important that this intellectual community be apprised of the recent attacks on student activists at the Students Union Building on the evening of Sunday 30 November 2014.
At exactly 3pm, members of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) and several other students’ activists converged at the SUB TV room for the Osun State aggregate meeting of the ERC. Throughout the period of this meeting, activists and students discussed a planned campaign for a national day of lecture boycott against attacks on public education and continuous underfunding of the educational sector.
However what was a hitch-free meeting from the beginning to the end was rocked with organized violence, sponsored against students’ activists who participated at the meeting. As the meeting ended, Ayinla, a fair-complexioned man who has been parading himself as the Chief Security Officer of the Students’ Union, met Wole Olubanji Engels (ERC National Mobilization Officer) outside SUB and pushed his chest. Activists, namely Juwon, Ola, AY, IBK etc., as well as students were taken aback by this development, and immediately developed keen interest in what might have transpired – demanding for reasons behind the assault. In a matter of seconds, some students, namely Bamidele (PRO of the Students’ Union), Israel Beji, Akuma Dbusta, Momodu Daniel (NANS Secretary General under Yinka Gbadebo's leadership), Teddy and five other men (who have not been identified as at the time of this writing), pounced on the students’ activists.
What followed was an orgy of beating which was meted on the Students’ activists. No reason was adduced for this fascist development. Juwon was beaten blue black, while Engels got a blob of blood on his eye skin. With time, these bullies started stating their grievances, and alleged us of mobilizing students to protest against Goodluck Jonathan’s visit to OAU. We instinctively connected this expression with a statement credited to the Union President and PRO respectively on Facebook that those behind what he described as “misinformation” of the press would be flushed out of the campus. We are surprised by this quick coincidence!
We have no doubt that this attack was organized, and in fact supervised by the Ibikunle-led rightwing section of the Students’ Union leadership, as the Union's PRO Bamidele was present throughout this whole event and was seen propping up the hoodlums perpetrating the attack. Guided by hindsight, we believe that it is a bad omen for the general security of Great Ife students, if supposed students’ union leaders are organizing public attack of violence against students they have tagged as critics. In fact this recent beating of activists is not the first of its kind. In Awolowo Hall, earlier this semester, the President of the Students’ Union and a student named Braga, including Bamidele, have been indicted in the beating of fresh students on campus in the infamous “Braga o de n wo scandal”. Two days ago, the Union's Financial Secretary, Oye completed his third record of “disciplining” his colleagues at his own discretion whenever he felt he has been slighted. A fresh student was slapped by Oye days ago. Yet the demands of Angolans for justice was cleverly impeded by the manipulation of other colleagues of Oye in the Union's Central Executive Council (CEC) in conspiracy with the University management, who ordered the health centre to put Oye under fake medication. This sequence of seeking asylum in the health centre has been recurring, especially in the cases of Oye’s aggression – the first time he slapped an Awoite in Awo Hall, Teddy and co rushed him down to the university health centre under the pretense that he had fainted. The reign of a tyrant is always premised on the general acceptance and unquestioning of his brutality.
Great Ife students Union has a rich tradition of not treating anyone as a sacred cow in their dispensation of justice. Our immediate reaction, while we were being brutalized and dehumanized, was not to engage these violence-happy individuals in any street brawl. Instead, we called the attention of students in Awolowo Hall, the political headquarters of Great Ife Students’ Union, to the situation. In a funny development, before Awoites reached the Ken Saro Wiwa building, the site of this attack, the aggressors, that is: Bamidele, Akuma, Israel Beji, Momodu Daniel and others quickly stuffed themselves into the HIACE TOYOTA BUS given to the Union leadership by Senator Iyiola Omisore. In the hullabaloo that followed, Teddy and T-Babs stayed behind threatening brimstone and fire; that they would mete out the same beating on Awoites as well. Awoites simply bundled him to Awolowo hall chanting Anti-Cultist slogans.
As if Awolowo Hall residents have a general gift of clairvoyance, minutes later cultists did attempt to make incursion to the University community. At the University Gate, Sammy and some other students’ activists – who were trying to make their way into the university campus after hearing reports of attacks on students – were attacked by cult members who flaunted themselves as members of Eye confraternity with Akuma Dbusta leading them. Sammy sustained injury from a deep-knife cut, while a student recognized as David suffered a cutlass blow – he is currently receiving treatment at Intensive Care Unit of Seven Day Adventist Hospital, after he was rejected by the OAU health centre and OAUTHC respectively for undisclosed reasons. Later on, in what police termed as order from the University authorities, Akuma Dbusta was spirited away from the university gate as Awoites moved to the gate to secure his arrest. Still, students arrested two of these cult members identified to have perpetrated this attack, and they were immediately brought down to Awolowo Hall.
From our own perspective, the attack today suggests the grave danger posed against individual students by the brutality and impunity of the men of the underworld acting the script of the rightwing section of the leadership of the Students Union. A careful comparison of this development with the July 10, 1999 attack shows similar factors of conspiracy and attack against Union activists, who the university community have tried in vain to silence. And it is pathetic that the leadership of the union is key to this conspiracy. Or how else do we term the haphazard release of the Union PRO on facebook, who supervised the whole event from the start, expressing ridiculously and falsely that “how can suspended students be beating legitimate students”? Of course the only intention behind such subterfuge is to deceive the percentage of students who are not residing on campus, and would need social media updates to get themselves apprised of situations on campus. Why did Bamidele take to his heel in company of Akuma and Ayinla? In the spirit of intellectualism, he should have remained on campus to inform students on the situation of things instead of lying behind social media mask. At least the Vice-President of the Union was around during this whole event.
We enjoin students not to be deceived by the divisive ploys of these elements. In our strong opinion, there is currently no going back on a Congress of students to address the recent cultist penetration on campus. And we hope that the individuals giving false cock and bull stories on the social media can appear before mass of Great Ife students to defend why they organized such aggression against fellow students. At this point, we call on Great Ife students to be vigilant and question all suspected or crooked movement, including behaviors on campus. What we have learnt from the aftermath of July 10, 1999 massacre is that the security of students is their collective responsibility.
This attack has been launched against us as payback for organising a protest against President Jonathan. We assure everyone that we shall not be deterred but shall continue to play our role in the struggle to save education and reclaim Nigeria.
ERC OAU Secretariat