Five students of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife were arrested by Osun State Police Command for protesting against the decision of the university management to evict some students from the hostels.
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) in a statement made availble to Saturday Sun and signed by the National Coordinator, Hassan Taiwo, said the five students were arrested on Wednesday, March 21, while protesting against attempt by the authorities of OAU 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).
ERC alleged that the five students were arraigned on trumped up three-count charges (misdemeanor, breach of peace and assault) yesterday before Magistrate F.I. Omisade of the Magistrate Court Ife, who remanded them in prison after granting them bail with conditions attached.
The conditions includes two sureties on grade level 14 with N500, 000 bail bond each stating ‘’these onerous conditions are meant to keep them in prison for as long as possible.”
The group disclsoed that the conditions are disproportionate to the charges levelled against the five students and alleged the action shows the extent the police and the judiciary in Osun State have been compromised by the OAU authorities in its bid to ensure that the five activists are kept behind bars.
The group condemned the arrest, arraignment and remandment in prison custody of the five student activists of OAU and alleged it was on the orders of the Vice Chancellor. It demanded for their immediate and unconditional release from prison custody.
According to ERC, the five students activists are: Gbenga Oloninikan (chairman, Great Ife Students Union Action Committee), Oyedeji Samson, Jimoh Oladipupo, Adeniji John and Olajide Ademola.
‘’Several students who have either spoken out against fee hike or participated in protest over bad welfare conditions have been suspended. In November 2016, ERC National Secretary Omole Ibukun and other student activists were suspended and the Students Union banned following a students’ protest against poor welfare conditions,’’ ERC noted.
It accused the Osun State Commissioner of Police of using his men to harass students and members of staff adding ‘’this is not new. The OAU authorities have a history of using the police and the court to clamp students and workers leaders in prison on trumped up charges.”
ERC said the arrest and detention of the five student activists bring to a point the litany of attacks on democratic rights in the university and called on staff unions, labour movement, civil society organizations and members of the public to call university authorities to order and to demand the immediate release of the students, recall of Omole Ibukun and others, restoration of the union and a halt to further attacks on democratic rights.