Press Release: The Day Justice Went to Sleep in Olabisi Onabanjo University
On Monday 20th May, 2013, at a protest organised to resist the Ogun state government’s attempt to make education inaccessible for the poor by announcing nationwide that students who haven’t completed the payment of those astronomical fees should not come near examination halls, a protest that was going on peacefully was deliberately hijacked by men of the Nigerian Police Force led by Assistant Commissioner of Police for Ogun state, Mr Abdulkadir Mohammed.
Earlier in the morning, the students converged peacefully at the gate of the Main campus and the SUG bus was packed in front of ONE of the gates to stop students going for examinations from going, in solidarity with affected students. The Area Commander came from Ijebu-ode and talked to the SUG President in the presence of the students. When the situation was explained to him, even he found it hard to believe and was just laughing. He left the students to continue and just sat around talking with other students.
Suddenly, the Assistant Commissioner of Police for Ogun state, Mr Abdulkadir Mohammed appeared with the Divisional Police Officer of Ago-iwoye and came barging down. He demanded that the SUG bus be removed from the gate, the SUG president refused. He then left in annoyance. As he was going, one of the policemen with him was saying that we better leave now, or else…, he left the remaining hanging.
I immediately approached the university Acting Chief Security Officer, Mr Adekunle. I told him that the policemen are planning to fire at students, and that since the protest was peaceful, he should tell the police that things are under control. He replied that, we better leave the place now, that “ti won ba yinbon, eniti o ba ku, lo ku o” (if they shoot, whoever dies, dies.)
The Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mr Abdulkadir Mohammed came barging back, and ordered that the policemen open fire. Tear gas was shot at students while live bullets were fired up. The students ran blindly for their dear lives while the police shot cannister upon cannister of tear gas at the retreating students. I stood my ground and refused to run even as the tear gas continued to sting my eyes. When the police saw me standing there, they ran to meet me, and though I was unarmed and wasn’t resisting arrest, they hit the butt of their gun on my head while slap upon slap stung my face until I was flat on the floor. Even on the floor, the policemen continued to march my head with their boots telling me that I ‘chop liver abi?’. Eventually, some of the policemen came back from chasing the students into the bush and into muddy areas. They made 9 arrests, plus me, 10 of us were arrested. They continued beating us and flung obscenities at us that wasn’t worthy of a learned human being, not to talk of people who were charged with keeping the law. We were first taken to Ijebu-igbo police station under heavy security, after which the Area Commander asked us to be brought to Igbeba Police station in Ijebu-ode, where we were detained until we were released on bail and taken back to the Vice Chancellor’s office.
THE ROLE OF SPONSORED AGENTS
While these were going on, sponsored agents whose aims were to undermine the importance of the peaceful protest started circulating information that 2 (two) students had been killed. A picture was circulated showing a young man in singlet. May I say that that picture wasn’t a picture of anyone killed at the protest; its the picture of a cultist who was shot dead in Ijebu-igbo on Sunday morning. May I also maintain that the picture wasn’t leaked by the leadership of the protest or well-meaning students; it was sent out by paid agents with the aim of discrediting the protest. It was after the picture was posted on social media that other students (who innocently believed it to be true) started circulating the information that two students were killed. I repeat, the picture didn’t emanate from credible student leaders, but from confusionists and paid agents with the aim of discrediting the protest.
THE HYPOCRISY OF THE MEDIA
Channels Television, a television station that had been praised in times past let down OOU students yesterday by broadcasting misleading information without consultation with any student. I had just been brought back from Igbeba Police station in Ijebu-ode and was in the VC’s office when Channels TV reporter was interviewing the VC. The reporter had interviewed the university management and the murderous ACP, Mr Abdulkadir Mohammed, yet he found it impossible to interview just one student. That was why they went and announced that I was the Student Union President. And that was why they could carry news that no ammunition was used.
It is not surprising that Mr Abdulkadir Mohammed, the ACP for Ogun state said no ammunition was used and that they just made arrests. The Nigerian Police Force, like other government agencies/parastatals, have been known to be pathological liars. Mr Abdulkadir Mohammed lied and posterity will be the judge of all.
AS THINGS STAND
The university management has directed that school activities continue and that there will be exams on Wednesday, May 22, 2013. They also announced that the portal is still open for those who want to make payments and complete their registration. However, the SUG has issued release after release telling students to boycott exams in solidarity with affected students. Today, no public vehicle was allowed to convey students into the school and, according to the SUG, the same is set to repeat itself tomorrow. The SUG has said that the two days extension that was given by the university management for registration is too short and that some students are still missing, hence the need for a postponement of exams.
IS THERE A STATE OF EMERGENCY IN OOU?
Meanwhile, heavily-armed policemen and the SSS continue to lay siege on the university community. Policemen and the SSS can be seen parading the town, and the school and outside the school gate. Most union members are still at large and most comrades can’t come out for fear of being arrested by the SSS who continue to look for student leaders. The state government must call off these people as students must be free to go to school in a peaceful environment void of the presence of these heavily armed persons.
Ogunjimi James Taiwo
Committee for the Defence of Human rights,
Olabisi Onabanjo University
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