The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) condemn in strong terms the attacks on a socialist organization carried out by officials of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife. The attacks which occurred on Tuesday 5, October 2010 was led by identifiable officials of the University and resulted in the complete vandalisation of the secretariat of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) and destruction of organizational properties.
The ERC consider this as an attack on the fundamental rights to freedom of association as enshrined in the relevant sections of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. The ERC therefore call on the University Management led by the Vice Chancellor Prof. Michael Faborode to halt these attacks and respect the democratic rights of students and youths to freedom of association.
The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) is a leading socialist organization on the campus and it has existed for the past 30 years. Its aims and objectives are to defend students and workers interests while campaigning for the transformation of Nigeria to a democratic socialist society where the commanding heights of the economy will be publicly owned and democratically controlled and managed by the working class. This organization is also active in the labour movement and it has produced radical and vibrant individuals who have led the Students’ Union to defend students’ right to a free and functional public funded education.
The secretariat of the organization was destroyed by security men on 5th October, 2010 on the directive of the Dean of Students' Affairs (DSA), Dr (Mrs.) Durosinmi, and supervised by the warden of Fajuyi hall, where the secretariat is situated, Mr. Falope.
The remote cause of this attack is a violent student crisis which occurred between July 11 to 13, 2010. During this crisis, some reactionary students’ union executives physically attacked members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) and other radical student activists. In the process, many members of the organization sustained injuries with about seven hospitalized. Also, the reactionary union thugs went to the rooms and secretariat of the DSM and burnt both individual and organization properties worth hundreds of thousands of naira. While this crisis unfolded, many high-ranking members of the University management actually supported the attacks.
However unable to withstand the public outcry and wide condemnation of the brutalities meted on the assaulted socialist students, the University Management set up an Investigative Panel in July to investigate the remote and immediate cause of the crisis. At the panel, members of the DSM who appeared before it presented incontrovertible evidences exposing the attackers and high ranking university officials backing them up. Those University officials named at the panel are Dean of Students' Affairs (DSA), Dr (Mrs.) L.M Durosinmi, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), Prof. Adesanya, the Chief Security Officer, Mr. Yinka Salami and the Chairman of the University’s Security Committee, Prof. J.A Fabayo.
Curiously however, since August 2009 when the panel concluded and submitted the report of its findings to the Vice Chancellor, the University Management has not published this report for the benefit of the concerned parties and the general public. This is in spite of the numerous letters written by the concerned students and their lawyers to the Management demanding the panel’s report. It seems the University Management has thrown this panel report into the waste bin in an attempt to protect the culpable officials who actually sponsored the attacks and their paid agents in the leadership of the Students’ Union.
This recent attack on the DSM secretariat is a direct continuation of the previous attack. Just like the previous attack, this current one is unprovoked. Indeed since the investigative panel sat, several members of the organization have become targets of physical and psychological attacks by the Dean of Students' Affairs (DSA), Dr (Mrs.) L.M Durosinmi. Some of them have been illegally thrown out of rooms they were allocated legally and paid for. Some have been restricted from entering the campus even though they need to attend lectures aside other academic activities. Most worrisome is the summary suspension of a member of the organization named Comrade Olorunwa Emmanuel (a.k.a Goddey) for his “alleged role in the crisis” by the University Management even before setting up the Investigative Panel to examine the roles of all parties in the crisis. Meanwhile while all this is happening, all the reactionary student union officials and their hoodlums who carried out brutal assault and arson on the person and properties of members of the DSM are walking freely on campus. This to us in the ERC is a confirmation of the bias of the University management and a miscarriage of justice.
At the root of these attacks is a cold-blooded agenda to eliminate socialist and left organizations on campus, especially DSM, which is seen as the arrowhead of the campaign against education under funding and other anti-student policies of the Management and government. The aim of Prof. Michael Faborode is to turn OAU to another University of Ibadan or the University of Ilorin where the Government has been able to root-out radical groups thus disarming the studentry politically and ideologically. In order to achieve this, Prof. Faborode has since inception as Vice Chancellor brutally attacked both progressive students' and workers' movements on campus. For instance, a student journalist, Ayo Ademiluyi has not been allowed to graduate since December 2009 despite completing all academic requirements for the award of Bachelor of Law degree because a campus newspaper he edited published a story which the university management found unsavoury. The ultimate aim is to eliminate completely the culture and tradition of protest against injustice for which OAU is renown so that government anti-poor policies can be imposed without opposition from any quarters.
WE THEREFORE DEMAND:
(1) Immediate halt to the brutal physical attacks which the University Management is unleashing on socialist students and other radical groups on campus
(2) Full and unconditional reinstatement of Adeleke Olorunwa Emmanuel and processing of Ayo Ademiluyi’s results.
(3) Release of the report of the findings of the Investigative Panel set-up to investigate the remote and immediate cause of the July 11 to 13 crises.
(4) Immediate arrest and prosecution of all those who partook in the brutal physical assaults and burning of properties belonging to members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) on July 13, 2010.
(5) Respect of democratic rights including the rights of students to freedom of association as guaranteed by relevant sections of the constitution.
Hassan Taiwo Soweto Chinedu Bosah
National Coordinator National Secretary