“The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) calls on the University authorities to desist from following this destructive path of victimizing a few leaders over a protest in which thousands of students participated in livid anger over the deterioration of their living and studying conditions."
Following the protest held by University of Lagos (UNILAG) students over students' deplorable welfare in April 2016, the authority of the university has launched out with tactics to punish some of the student leaders for wrongdoing. The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) has called on the authorities at UNILAG to put a “halt to all activities that the university has deplored to intimidate the student leaders.”
In a statement signed by Hassan Taiwo Soweto, the National Coordinator, and Michael Ogundele, the National Secretary of the organization, ERC urged the management of UNILAG to learn from other institutions, citing Obafemi Awolowo University as an example, which had used a “slash and burn” approach in dealing with students agitations. ERC said that UNILAG's punitive measures can only worsen the situation and fracture the relationship between the student community and UNILAG management.
“The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) calls on the University authorities to desist from following this destructive path of victimizing a few leaders over a protest in which thousands of students participated in livid anger over the deterioration of their living and studying conditions. As examples of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) and other crisis-ridden academic institutions show, this sort of vindictive “slash and burn” approach will further worsen the crisis, as it will completely break down whatever relationship still exists between the administration and the student community,” the statement read.
The statement also said that subjecting the students to any panel contravenes the “principle of natural justice.” The group emphasized that “before their invitation to the Senate Disciplinary Panel, there was no evidence that any of the union leaders and activists were invited to a fact-finding panel.” The group described the process as a “witch hunt” targeted at some perceived enemies of the management.
ERC also demanded “a halt to all other actions, many of which are plainly illegal, that the University has taken since April 28 to impose an atmosphere of fear and trepidation on campus and diminish the democratic rights of students. Some of these actions include forcing students and their parents to sign an indemnity and undertaken form as a condition for the re-opening of the University in May, the ban on students gathering, suspension of the Students Union, and ejection of union leaders from their official accommodation days to examination.”
The group urged the University to proffer solutions to the power and water challenges in the school rather than using its time to victimize students. It also challenged the University authority to “provide answers to inquiries as to the whereabouts of the two additional generators the University is meant to have.”
ERC further called on students and civil societies to openly condemn the actions of the UNILAG management.
The protest was called by the University of Lagos Students Union (ULSU) on the 6th and 7th of April 2016. A disciplinary panel was subsequently established on June 21, 2016.