Thursday, 12 April 2018

ERC CONDEMNS REPRESSION OF PROTESTING STUDENTS OF ADEKUNLE AJASIN UNIVERSITY AKUNGBA AKOKO (AAUA)

We demand immediate and unconditional reversal of the hiked fees
Press statement
 
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) strongly condemns the repression of protesting students of Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko (AAUA) by armed policemen on the orders of the Ondo state Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu. The students were peacefully protesting against astronomical hike in school fees when policemen descended on them shooting live bullets and tear gas sporadically. On Monday 9 April 2018, a student was shot in the leg. Equally on Wednesday 11 April 2018, the peaceful protest was again attacked and several students were arrested by the police.
 
We condemn this mindless repression and demands the immediate and unconditional release of all those arrested. We also call for the immediate sack of the Commissioner of Police in Ondo state for carrying out such mindless and vicious attacks on students peacefully protesting against a fee hike that if allowed to succeed would cut shut their dream of receiving University education.
 
The right to peacefully protest injustice is a universally recognized inalienable right. We warn the Ondo state government to desist from unleashing violence on students demanding their rights. We call on the labour movement and civil society organizations to condemn the repression.
 
We hereby join students to demand an immediate and unconditional reversal of the hiked fees as well as increase in the subvention of AAUA and other state-owned tertiary institutions. As far as we are concerned the fee hike from about 35, 000 to about N200, 000 is anti-poor and unacceptable. Especially given the already dire
economic situation whereby workers and artisans are struggling to keep their heads above water, this hike will lead to massive dropout of indigent students. If this happens, the jobs of academic and non-academic staff will be threatened. This was the scenario that played out at the Lagos State University (LASU) within the three years that an astronomical fee hike regime was sustained.
 
On this basis, we therefore urge members of staff of AAUA not to be hoodwinked or cajoled to support the fee hike in the expectation that it would ensure that workers’ salaries are paid as at when due. Now workers of the institution are being owed backlog of salary and allowances spanning months. But if the astronomical fee hike is allowed, very soon hundreds of academic and non-academic staff will lose their jobs on the basis of decline in students’ population. Therefore instead of supporting the increment, we urge ASUU AAUA, SSANU AAUA, NASU AAUA and NAAT AAUA to join students to resist the increment and demand increase in the subvention to the institution.
 
The argument of the University’s governing council that it is cash-trapped and therefore must increase fees is unacceptable. Where is the evidence? Except concocted figures on facebook, the university has not backed this claim with any serious evidence. We therefore demand that a full statement of the University’s finances be published and that an independent panel made of elected representatives of staff unions, students unions, alumni body and other stakeholders be constituted to probe how the University’s finances has been managed or mismanaged in the last 10 years.
 
In any case, if the pro-Chancellor and vice chancellor of the university have no other means of rectifying the financial situation of the university except by increasing the burden of students and their poor parents, then they should resign and allow those who have better ideas to run the institution.
 
As far as we are concerned, education is a right and not a privilege. It is the social responsibility of government to its citizens. We are strongly of the opinion that the Ondo state government can fund public education appropriately if the state resources are placed under democratic control and management and the routine corruption of elected public office holders stopped.
 
We declare our solidarity with the struggle of AUUA students. We applaud the students for their courage and perseverance and urge them to escalate the struggle until victory is achieved.
 
 
 

                                                                                                                
Hassan Taiwo Soweto                                            Ibukun Omole                               
National Coordinator (07033697259)                 National Secretary
                                                                           

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

ERC CONDEMNS HARRASSMENT OF NBA IKEJA OVER PLANNED PROTEST AGAINST LAGOS LAND USE CHARGE LAW 2018


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) strongly condemns the siege laid by the police on the Secretariat of the Ikeja branch of the NBA with a view to arrest the chairman of the group and intimidate the NBA and Civil society organisations from going on with their planned protest against the anti-poor Lagos land use charge law 2018 scheduled to take place tomorrow Thursday March 29, 2018. 

This action of the police is undemocratic and tyrannical. Its constitute harrassment of innocent citizens reminiscent of the dark days of military rule. We hereby call for immediate lift of the siege and the recognition of the rights of Nigerians to protest any anti-poor policy. 

We condemn the statement issued by the Lagos state police commissioner where he justified the illegal action of the police on the basis of the need to ensure that the security of President Buhari who is scheduled to visit Lagos tomorrow is not jeopardized on account of the NBA protest. 

While as law-abiding citizens we understand the need to ensure maximum security for the president even though poor Nigerians live in conditions of daily insecurity, we beg to disagree that the protest of the NBA scheduled much before the president visit was announced can cause a breach of security. We ask: how can the protest of the NBA and CSOs jeopardize the president's security when the State govt and the APC are planning to bus in thousands of people from all around Lagos and other APC-governed states in the South west and beyond to stage street rallies and processions tomorrow as part of the programmes to welcome President Buhari? 

If the police wants to be fair, then it is not only the NBA protest that would be stopped tomorrow, other rallies and processions being planned for tomorrow to welcome the president would have to be stopped also for the same reasons. We think the police excuses are weak and unacceptable. We hereby demand that the police recognise the democratic right of Nigerians to protest against anti-poor policies, lift the siege on the NBA, halt any plan to arrest NBA and CSO leaders and allow the planned peaceful protest against Land use charge law 2018 to go on tomorrow without hindrance.


Signed
Hassan Taiwo Soweto
National Coordinator

Thursday, 22 March 2018

FIVE OAU STUDENT ACTIVISTS REMANDED IN PRISON CUSTODY FOR PROTESTING FORCEFUL EVICTION OF STUDENTS FROM HOSTELS


As Authorities Step up Repression, Escalate the Solidarity

Call for Protest Letters and Messages

Repression at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile Ife has taken a new turn with the arrest of five (5) students activist and their remand in prison custody for protesting against forceful eviction of students from their hostels.

The five (5) student activists are: Gbenga Oloninikan (Chairman, Great Ife Students Union Action Committee), Oyedeji Samson, Jimoh Oladipupo, Adeniji John and Olajide Ademola. They are members of an Action committee formed at a congress and composed by representatives of left organizations (including the DSM) and radical students which has been acting in the absence of a union to organize students to resist attacks.

The students 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. Ogunmodede 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 2017, 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 call for protest letters and messages to condemn the arrest and demand the immediate release of the five students. The letters should also demand the unconditional reinstatement of the ERC National Secretary, Omole Ibukun and all victimized students activists of the University, restoration of the proscribed students union and a halt to all attacks on democratic rights.

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 14 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.

This is not new. The OAU authorities has a history of using the police and the court to clamp students and workers leaders in prison on trumped up charges. A few weeks ago, the chairman of the University’s branch of the Non Academic Staff Union (NASU) was arrested and treated in the same manner for enforcing a national strike of the union for payment of earned allowance.

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, students unions, civil society organizations and members of the public to call University authorities to order and to demand:

  1. Immediate and Unconditional release of the five (5) students,
  2. Unconditional recall of Omole Ibukun and others,
  3. Restoration of the Students union and
  4. Halt to further attacks on democratic rights.  
 Send all protest letters and SMS to:
  1. Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ogunmodede: +2348037195770
  2. Registrar OAU, Mr. Awoyemi: +2348033857858, +2348054428510
E-Mail: dotunawoyemi@yahoo.om, registra@oauife.edu.ng, dotunawoyemi@oauife.edu.ng. Please send copies of protest letters to edurightsforall@yahoo.co.uk 


Hassan Taiwo Soweto
National Coordinator
+2347033697259