Sunday 4 June 2017

ERC Oyo Condemns the Suspension of the University of Ibadan Students’ Union

 It is an attack on students’ democratic rights

Press Statement

  • The University of Ibadan Senate has no power to suspend/ proscribe the students’ union as it violates the Nigerian constitution. We call for immediate re-opening of the school for all undergraduate students and unconditional restoration of the students’ union.

  • Refusal to give student I.D cards despite the fact that they paid for it is criminal and misappropriation punishable under the Nigerian law. We recommend Prof. Olayinka Idowu for immediate investigation by an independent probe panel comprising elected representatives of staff and students

The Education Rights Campaign ( ERC) Oyo state chapter strongly frowns at the recent attacks on students’ democratic rights by the university of Ibadan management. We condemn in strong terms the arbitrary suspension of the students’ union by the university of Ibadan senate. We in the same manner oppose the sudden closure of the university against undergraduate students of the university. The university management under the leadership of Prof. Abel Olayinka Idowu must immediately reopen the university for all undergraduate students and unconditionally restore the activities of the students’ union claimed to be suspended.

The University of Ibadan management under the Prof. Abel Idowu Olayinka unilaterally shut down the university against  undergraduate students of the university  on Monday  29th May, 2017. This is immediately after mass of students staged a protest to express their dissatisfaction against anti-student policies of Prof. Olayinka-led management. Part of the agitations of students during the May 29, 2017 protest was against the failure of the university management to issue to them their school I.D cards which has been paid for in the last 3 academic semesters, bad student welfare on campus, and victimization of students who were suspended or expelled because they exercised their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Worthy to note that, since 2015/2016 academic session, university of Ibadan students have continued to be denied school I.D cards despite the fact that  they are being forced to pay exorbitantly for same. In 2016/2017 academic session for instance students were forced to pay a sum of N650 as the levy for the production of the school I.D card. This amount was increased by over 200% to N2,000 in the 2016/2017 session without any prior discussion with either the student or their representatives. Despite different forms of difficulties  students went through before they could pay this outrageous amount for just a mere production of ID card, the Olayinka-led management still went ahead to deny them of the issuance of the ID card. To us in the ERC, the refusal of Prof. Olayinka led university administration to issue school I.D Cards to students despite the fact that they have paid for it is a criminal act punishable under the Nigerian law.

ERC therefore uses this medium to call for an independent panel comprising elected representatives of staff and students to carry out a public probe of the financial misappropriation carried out by Prof. Olayinka and his allies in the University of Ibadan. The refusal to give students their I.D cards after payment is a breach of Nigerian contract law and deserve immediate investigation and possible trial.

The  students’ welfare condition on campus is another area of concern. It has continued to degenerate as toilets and bathrooms in the hostels became more terrible, kitchenettes across the hostels have practically collapsed, lecture rooms and practical laboratories are ill-equipped and the university library refused to be opened for students.

All of these issues formed the background upon which the students’ union leadership of Ojo Aderemi held a union congress on 27th May, 2017 where the entirety of students resolved to protest against the continuous refusal of the Prof Olayinka led administration to issue students their ID cards. The Ojo Aderemi union leadership carried out the congressional resolution by leading a peaceful protest of students on 29th May, 2017. This is despite the threats by the Oyo state Police Commissioner who promised to rain  fire; brimstone and kill any student who come out to protest on May 29. This protest recorded a huge success as generality of students refused to be threatened and organized themselves more for a peaceful demonstration  without any record of destruction of properties or life lost!  As matter of fact the peaceful protest was conducted under the watch of the Oyo State police commissioner and his men.

Unfortunately, instead of the Prof. Olayinka-led management to accede to the demands of the aggrieved students, it so sad to note that the Vice Chancellor unilaterally decided to force  undergraduate students out of the university and put all student hostels under lock and key. An emergency senate meeting was summoned the second day which was largely used to rubber stamp the arbitrary closure of the university following which the students union and its activities were pronounced suspended. ERC condemns in strong terms both the sudden closure of the university against undergraduate students and proscription of the students’ union. This is obviously not in tandem with the provisions of the Nigerian constitution. The Nigerian constitution recognizes the rights of all Nigerians to freedom of association and peaceful assembly. We therefore call for immediate and unconditional restoration of the students’ union. We hold that the student union is not a cube of sugar that can just be dissolved at will by the  university senate!

ERC also condemns the political victimization of students and demands an immediate reinstatement. It must be stated that before now the Olayinka led administration has been victimizing students who participated or led a protest of students on campus. Students who speak against the ills of the university administration were either rusticated or expelled from the university. It is obvious that Prof. Idowu  Olayinka has now turned the university of Ibadan to a military empire where students’ independent voice is being trampled upon and students who raise radical positions against the abnormalities of the university  are victimized.

We commend the courage of students who came out in their hundreds to protest against the fraudulent act of the university management. We at the same time encourage them not to be discouraged with the sudden attacks that was unleashed on them by the university management. The union leadership at this material point in time should come out with practical lines of actions to force the university management to immediately re-open the university and for unconditional restoration of the students’ union. The ERC Oyo state chapter pledges to give all necessary political support to the union leadership, in principle, towards fighting for the reinstatement of the union activities and immediate recall of all politically victimized students.

ERC remains resolute in the fight for immediate reinstatement of the union and re-opening of the university for all undergraduate students.  The union leadership of Ojo Aderemi should commence the process to organize mass actions across communities and towns in Ibadan and beyond where UI students reside as a means of kick-starting political struggle for the immediate re-opening of the school.

Our Demands:
  • Immediate and unconditional re-opening of the school
  • The university senate has no power to suspend any of the union activities or proscribe the union. We demand an immediate and unconditional restoration of the union
  • Students have rights to independent unionism. No to interference in the running of the union activities. No to authority-midwifed attempt to review the students union constitution.
  • The refusal to give students I.D card after payment is criminal. We recommend the University Vice Chancellor, Prof. Abel Olayinka Idowu, for immediate investigation by an independent probe panel comprising elected representatives of staff and students
  • All politically and unjustly rusticated/expelled students must be immediately and unconditionally recalled.
  • We oppose any form of attack on students’ democratic rights on campus. Students have rights to associate, rights of expression and rights to form unions.
  • We call on all other sister unions on campus: NASU, SSANU, ASUU and the wider trade and labour union movement- NLC, ULC and TUC to lend support and solidarity to the struggle of students going on in the university of Ibadan.

  Segun  Ogun                                   
Oyo state Coordinator                                                                             

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