The Save UNILAG Coalition, an amalgam of student bodies, has written to Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, governor of Lagos State, to remind him of his promise to intervene on behalf of the 11 students rusticated from the University of Lagos in April 2016.
The letter, made available to SaharaReporters, is dated 8 May and signed by Sanyaolu Juwon, secretary to the coalition. Mr. Ambode’s promise, noted the Save UNILAG Coalition, was relayed to students at the Lagos State House of Assembly, where they had a protest rally on 5 April.
The coalition told the governor that on 6 April last year, students protested poor welfare conditions on the university campus, a development met with the heavy hand of the UNILAG Senate. The affected students are Mohammed Olaniyan, Adeyeye Olorunfemi, Adeonipekun Adeyanju, Akinnubi Pedro, Afolabi Emmanuel, Jumai Fabiyi, Anita Kazier, Oluwatobi Ojo, Tajudeen Akanbi, Aghelejin Young and Funmi Badewa.
“The University Senate approved the rustication of all the University of Lagos (ULSU) principal officers, including Olorunfemi Adeyeye. ULSU was equally suspended while the generality of students was compelled to sign indemnity forms in order to frighten them from demanding their rights,” wrote the coalition.
While thanking the Lagos State government, especially for assisting in securing the release of two student activists detained at the Kirikiri Prisons, the coalition reminded the governor that the UNILAG authorities reinstated only two out of the 13 rusticated student activists. It appealed to the governor to help facilitate the unconditional reinstatement of the 11 students, intervene to prevent the university from victimizing 40 doctorate students for speaking out against hike in their accommodation fees and assist in the restoration of ULSU and recognition of the right to independent students’ unionism.
The coalition also demanded an improvement in welfare conditions on campus, reversal of the hike of postgraduate students’ hostel charges, respect for democratic rights and a halt to all anti-students’ policies.
The Save UNILAG Coalition contended that all the actions of the university authorities in the aftermath of the 2016 protests, including the suspension of 11 students, violated the principles of natural justice and the Nigerian Constitution.
“The suspension of the students and ULSU, the enforcement of indemnity forms were done in violation of the fundamental rights of students to freedom of expression and association,” the coalition told Mr. Ambode.
The coalition said it is convinced that the repression of unions will never resolved conflicts in academic institutions, saying it tends to lay the foundation for ceaseless agitation, unrest and disruption of activities on and off campus. It maintained that the more viable approach is the one that considers the students’ demands on their merits and develops ways of meeting the needs.
“The demands for which these 11 rusticated students acted as conveyors and for which they have now been unjustly punished are on issues of epileptic power and water supply, exploitation, high cost of food and other basic needs on campus, deplorable conditions of hostel, inadequate teaching infrastructure as well as the generally poor welfare conditions on campus. The demands made by ULSU during the April protest are genuine demands that are capable of bringing advancement to the students of UNILAG and Nigeria as a whole,” reasoned the coalition.
It counseled the university authorities against seeing the 11 rusticated students disruptive. None of the demands made by the rusticated students, the coalition, noted has been addressed by the university. It advised that the persistent failure to address the demands will continue to sully the university’s image.