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Nigerian university rusticates five students over protest

The management of the University of Benin has rusticated five students for allegedly staging protest with the aim of disrupting officials programmes of the school last year.

The affected students included Elvis Ogbidi, Students’ Union president; Justus Aidenagbon, secretary-general; Innocent Momodu, assistant secretary-general; Goodnews Ehisbhi, public relations officers; and Benjamin, also known as Samkara, an activist.

The development was communicated via a statement by the spokesperson for the school, who signed off as M.O. Osasuyi, during the weekend.

Mr. Osasuyi also disclosed that the management had lifted the suspension placed on the SU last year. The SU had been disbanded, following the November last year students’ protest that rocked the university and which caused the rustication of the union leaders now.

The statement read, “The Senate of the university at the emergency meeting held on February 1st considered the management white paper and report of the student disciplinary committee containing the recommendation on the role by students union executives and the Parliament in a protest intended to disrupt the 47th founder’s day and 43rd convocation ceremonies of the university.

“The Senate extensively deliberated and approved the rustication of Elvis Ogbidi (ART 1401044) for two semesters, Justus Aidenagbon (ART 1300172) for two semester, Innocent Momodu (ART 1401587) for two semesters, Goodnews Ehisbhi (SSC 1407273)for four semesters and Benjamin Majekodunmi (EDU 1402634) for four semesters.”

The statement added that the SU vice-president Frances Efioma should step in as acting president.

Apart from Uniben, student activists at various Nigerian universities, including the first generation Ibadan, Lagos and Ife, have faced sanctions from authorities for leading protests.

The left-wing group, Democratic Socialist Movement, as well as its affiliate Education Rights Campaign, has been at the vanguard of advocacies for reinstatement of such suspended students across the universities.

In a reaction, one of the newly rusticated Uniben students, Mr Majekodunmi, Sankara, said the fate suffered by he and his colleagues was an act of victimisation in a Facebook update on Saturday

“Recall that UniBen students held a General Assembly on the 21st of November, 2017. The GA deliberated on the astronomical hike in school and hostel accommodation fees, and thus collectively agreed that the management should immediately reverse its decision on the hike, considering the current economic hardship on the poor Nigerian parents.

“Rather than addressing the demands of protest, however, the professor Orunwense led management deployed soldiers to repress UniBen students, undemocratically suspended the students union government, tyrannically locked up the students union secretariat, and now, rusticated five final year students.

“If not for a selective victimization, why would a management rusticate five students on an account of a peaceful protest of over one thousand students? When was the right to peaceful protest expunged from the Nigerian Constitution?

“However, it must be affirmed and reaffirmed that no amount of professor Orunwense terrorism can force UniBen students to subject to his misrule,” he said.

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