By Sodiq Lawal
About eight members of the students’ union of Obafemi Awolowo University are currently being held in Ilesa Maximum Prison for staying back in the school hostel while the institution is on break.
It was learnt that the school management while trying to enforce an eviction order on the students, invited police officers to the school.
It was gathered that the police officers arrested the union leaders while they were addressing their fellow students.
The union leaders were first detained in Moore Police Station after their arrest before they were taken to court where the judge ordered that they should be taken to Ilesa maximum prison for detention on Thursday.
But the students claimed that those who stayed back in school were either writing their projects, doing their teaching practice or internship programs.
The students also added that they have always been allowed to stay back in halls of residence by the school management because the programs are recognized by the university authorities.
Speaking to our correspondent, one of the students’ union leaders who escaped arrest narrated how the Hall Warden of Moremi Hall spearheaded the forceful ejection of students and eventual damage to properties.
He said, “the hall warden and some other people went into the room of the students and were throwing out beds, clothes and other properties of the students. They even went as far as molesting the students in carrying out the order of the management.”
One of the students who spoke with our correspondents revealed that the university management had previously attempted to forcefully evict students from an Alumni Hall.
He added that it took the intervention of the union leaders before residents of the Alumni Hall were allowed back into their rooms.
“While we were trying to pacify the warden that they should allow the students to stay, the management hurriedly brought in police officers into the schools. These police officers brutalized and whisked away some of the union leaders present at Moremi hall.
“We found out that they were taken to Moore police station but when we got there, the officers told us that we cannot bail those arrested and insisted that it is only their guardian that can bail them”, the students narrated.
Speaking further, the students lamented how their colleagues were hurriedly taken to court and tried before a kangaroo court.
They maintained that they were arraigned as early as 9 am and the judge asked the students to be detained at Ilesa maximum prison.
They also said that the school management presented the Hall Warden and some university officials who were not at Moremi hall when the controversy broke out to testify against the students.
The judge who presided over the students’ case at Adebamidele High Court, Osun ordered the students to be remanded while he fixed very tough bail conditions for them.
The bail conditions include N500,000 including two sureties for each student and each surety must be a civil servant who is at Level 12 and must have paid his taxes up to date.
Condemning the attack, Education Rights Campaign (ERC) through a statement signed by its Acting Coordinator, Drunnex Samuel and Acting Secretary, Damilola Amethyst, labeled the act by the university management to forcefully eject students from campus as barbaric and inhumane.
“We also consider the violent assault, harassment and brutalisation of students, a ridicule of the university’s image and an abuse of the fundamental human right of students; Right to human dignity and right to a peaceful assembly among many others”, ERC posited.
The education rights body also slammed the Nigeria Police Force for their involvement in the forceful ejection of students by being used as instruments and machines to carry out the dirty works of OAU management. ERC insisted that the police has the duty to maintain law and order and not act as an oppressive body.
“For us in the Education Rights Campaign, we believe the police force is a state apparatus which should serve as a protective layer to the oppressed where they can seek solace and not a mere purchasable tool of the highest bidder in implementing repressive aims of the oppressors.”
It was gathered that the university management is already mapping out how to also forcefully to eject students residing in Awo Hall and to also arrest whoever tries to resist the eviction order.