LAUTECH Students Want Colleagues Freed

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Students of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) have called for the release of 60 students of the institution detained on allegation of possessing dangerous weapons.

The students are currently being detained at the Iyaganku Police Station in Ibadan, Oyo State, South-West Nigeria.

The students accused the law enforcement agents of acting on the instruction of the state government to detain the students, an action they described as undemocratic.

A statement by the Students Union Government of the institution stated: “Many students were beaten, clubbed and brutally injured by over 500 trigger-happy policemen who stormed the university and students’ residential areas with amoured tank on Thursday, 10 March and Friday, 11 March, 2011.

“In the process, students’ properties were looted; many female students were stripped naked while some were actually raped as the trigger-happy policemen barged into the hostels.”

The police action, according to the students, took place a day after students of the institution in Ogbomosho clashed with commercial motorcycle riders, popularly called Okada.

The students, who rejected the explanation by the institution that the arrests were aimed at bringing peace to the community, stated: “These attacks were carried out by the police on the orders of the Oyo State government in order to cow students of LAUTECH into submission and acquiescence to the highly astronomical fee increment recently introduced by the management of the university against which LAUTECH students and the Students’ Union have been fighting against in the past few months.

“Fees were recently hiked this session from N40,000 to N105,000. This attack by the police is part of a carefully orchestrated plan by the Oyo State government to continue to terrorise LAUTECH students into submission with the aid of trigger-happy policemen and violent ultra-fascist death-squad of student cultists.”

The students confirmed the fracas between them and Okada riders, explaining that one of the Okada riders whose motorcycle was stolen around the hostels mobilized his colleagues to attack the students.

They said in the process, many students were brutalised and injured, including two who were stabbed and hospitalized.

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“The next day, rumour spread rapidly round the campus that the two hospitalized students had died. This was what provoked the students to embark on a peaceful protest.

“To stem the tide of further violence, police were deployed but instead of resolving the issue peacefully as the Students’ Union Government had expected, they began shooting at students.

“Many students were injured in the confusion that followed as they scampered for safety. The next day, Friday, 11 March, 2011, a larger contingent of fully armed policemen were deployed, to visit further violence on students and in the process over 60 students were arrested while properties belonging to students were looted by the trigger-happy policemen,” they stated, adding that the university management also announced the suspension of Comrade Adeniji Idowu, President of the SUG, while asking the students to proceed on break.

The students, represented by the acting president of the union and the General Secretary, Adu Ronke and Alabi Shittu, respectively, blamed the crisis on the state government and its practice of non-residential university campus system coupled with its anti-student policies.

“The crisis of ownership, particularly, had forced many of our students to a state of fear, apprehension and desperation as they are unsure of what will become of their certificate eventually if the feud is not resolved as soon as possible.

“Secondly, the over 1000 percent fee increment (from N40,000 to N105, 000) has further compounded students’ desperation and frustration. Many of our female students have been forced into prostitution while some male students have taken to cyber crime and other anti-social activities all in a bid to raise the money to pay their school fees,” the students stated, stressing that efforts to make the government reverse the decision proved unsuccessful.

The students called for the unconditional release of their colleagues and the reinstatement of their president.

They are also asking that the school fees be reduced and that the ownership crisis between Oyo and Osun governments be resolved.

—Eromosele Ebhomele

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