By Gabriel Dike, Lagos
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Lagos State University (LASU) branch, has asked the management of the institution to admit that it contributed in part to the death of student activist Nurudeen Yusuf Alowonle by tying him down from graduating with a spurious allegation.
Alowonle was shot dead Wednesday night by unknown gunmen around the Iba gate of the university, the university management however claiming in a statement that he was killed along Egbeda Igando Road.
ASUU-LASU in a statement signed by the Secretary, Dr Tony Dansu, and Assistant Secretary, Dr Adeolu Oyekan, said the university owes Alowonle more than the regret expressed in its release, and we urged the management to take the noble path of acknowledging its vicarious liability in his death.
The union said his murder is a direct result of the decision of a powerful few to use the structures of the university to hound and harass a promising young man to avoidable death, on account of his non-conformist views.
‘His decision to contest the outcome of the 2019 presidential election of the Students’ Union, which he is widely believed to have won but whose process and results were manipulated according to several accounts, precipitated a chain of events ranging from threats, intimidation, and eventual arraignment on charges bordering on admission racketeering,’ the duo added.
‘He maintained his innocence and demonstrated how the allegations against him fitted well into a pattern of frame-ups, for which the immediate past administration of the university became notorious.’
According to the union, Alowonle battled the charges against him for the better part of the last two years, convinced of his innocence and eventual acquittal.
‘It is unfortunate that the current university administration kept on with those charges for this long without proof, and it is instructive that the primary purpose of Alowonle’s presence around LASU on the fateful day of his murder was to answer yet another summon by the university in respect of the prolonged investigation,’ ASUU LASU observed.
The union said Alowonle completed his studies late in 2019, and ought to be participating in the mandatory national youth service scheme currently, but was unable to get mobilised because of the vindictive and repressive nature of the university management, with which he found himself at constant loggerheads.
‘We call on security agencies to investigate the immediate circumstances surrounding the killing of Alowonle. Reports on the conduct of the police on the matter, so far, leave so much to be desired, and it is bad for the confidence of staff and students of LASU in terms of the capacity of the police in Lagos State to provide protection, and also deter or detect crimes around the university environment.
‘We also urge the Visitor to the University and Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to make good his promise of setting up a visitation panel for the university and include the investigation of the circumstances surrounding the persecution of Alowonle in its terms of reference,’ the union stated.