Following the arrest of some student activists by men of the Nigerian Police on Wednesday in Lagos State, the Students Representative Council of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Osun State, has demanded the immediate release of the arrested students.
Naija News earlier reported that three persons were reportedly arrested by operatives of the Nigeria Police Force, Lagos State Command, as students of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and members of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NASS) trooped out to protest against fee increment by the school authorities
The platform in an earlier video showed the moment security operatives fired tear gas to scare away the peaceful protesters.
According to SaharaReporters, the police operatives, having disrupted the peaceful protest, also arrested an activist, Philip Olatinwoa, alongside two other protesters.
Reacting to the arrest, the OAU student council and the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore, have demanded the immediate and unconditional release of an activist, Femi Adeyeye, the PRO of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Giwa Temitope and the other arrested persons.
While Sowore took to X, formerly Twitter, to express his displeasure about the arrest, the OAU student council also did the same.
The OAU council described the arrest of the students as a breach of their fundamental rights as citizens of Nigeria.
The statement reads: “The Great Ife Students Union Students’ Representative Council expresses its deep concern and strong condemnation of the recent unlawful arrest of NANS National PRO, Giwa Temitope, Femi Adeyeye, and several others who were peacefully participating in a march against fee hikes. This arrest has raised serious questions about the preservation of our fundamental rights as citizens of Nigeria.
“As students, we firmly believe in the power of peaceful protest as a means to express our concerns and grievances. The right to protest is a fundamental pillar of our democracy, and it should not be trampled upon by any authority. We stand united in our belief that the voices of the youth and students must be heard and respected.
“In the spirit of our nation’s history, where great leaders have championed the cause of justice and equality, we are reminded of the words of Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Furthermore, Martin Luther King Jr.’s words resonate with our cause: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“Our generation will not stand idly by while the cost of education becomes an insurmountable burden. We will fight for affordable education for all. We also urge all stakeholders, including the government and educational institutions, to engage in open dialogue with students to address the pressing issue of fee hikes and find solutions that benefit everyone.
“The Great Ife Students Representative Council sends a strong warning signal to the members of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) to uphold the principles of justice and release the arrested individuals immediately. We call upon the relevant authorities to respect the rights of citizens to peaceful assembly and protest, as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.
“In conclusion, we stand in solidarity with our fellow students and youth across the nation, and we reiterate our call for the immediate release of the arrested Comrades. Together, we shall continue to strive for a better future and a more equitable society where students from poor houses can have access quality and affordable education.”
Also, Sowore, while reacting to the incident, stated, “I read somewhere that the @PoliceNG claimed that @activistfemi was arrested because @UnilagNigeria authorities claimed that @activistfemi is/was no longer a student of the University, this tad argument is the most idiotic I’ve heard in a while.
“I think the University of Lagos didn’t understand that the University is a public institution, run with the taxes of the Nigerian people and, as such, can’t be secluded from public interest, including protests.
“The @PoliceNG must release @activistfemi unconditionally and understand that its ground belongs to the Nigeria people. #FeesMustFall #RevolutionNow.”
It would be, however, recalled that the NANS had on Tuesday informed the police of plans to hold the peaceful protest on September 6, 2023, at the University of Lagos.
NANS had warned the Department of State Services not to prevent students from exercising their rights to protest, saying it is a universally recognised human right.