By Stephen Rigney
Following a massive crackdown by college authorities in Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) three students have been arrested on trumped up charges of conspiracy to murder and attempted murder.
The three students, Saburi Akande Akinola (Students’ Union President) and Taiwo Hassan Soweto and Olatunde Dairo (both members of the Democratic Socialist Movement – the CWI in Nigeria) have played a key role in organising protests in support of students’ rights and improved living and education standards in OAU.
Last year, in opposition to the sponsored candidates of management, OAU students elected a radical students’ union leadership, standing on a platform of opposition to plans to commercialise education and campaigning for an independent students’ union, free from interference from OAU authorities. Immediately, management began cracking down on the rights of students to protest, banning the Union and expelling students, including Saburi, in response to a campaign demanding that students be given their legal right to a free study week before exams.
On 31 July, while on his way to court to challenge his expulsion, Saburi was arrested on trumped of charges including rioting, destruction of property, disruption of exams and conspiracy to murder, in an attempt to cut across students organising.
Two days after a mass student meeting on 9 October, which called for a lecture boycott on 17 & 18 October, in support of Saburi, Olatunde (Students’ Union PRO) and Taiwo (Coordinator, Education Rights Campaign) were arrested and charged with conspiracy to murder and attempted murder of the OAU Vice Chancellor, in 2004. College authorities have also closed down OAU to stop any demonstrations by students, in support of the Union leaders.
The university authorities are cracking down in an attempt to break the Students’ Union, so that they can ram through their attacks on the rights of students and turn education in OAU into a profit-making business. In response to the repression, OAU students are organising a protest outside the bail hearing of Saburi, on 23 October and international protests are also planned.
Support the OAU Three
Send protest letters against this brutal repression of student activism to the e-mail addresses below:
– CC copies to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Funds for defence of the OAU three are also being appealed for. Donations can be sent via www.socialistnigeria.org/donate.htm.