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RELEASE SOCIALIST STUDENTS - STOP ATTACK ON DSM - SOLIDARITY NEEDED!
Segun Sango, General Secretary, Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI in Nigeria)
The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) condemns in absolute terms the latest physical attacks on our members at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife by the pro-management students’ union officers and thugs in connivance with the authorities.
This unprovoked attack by the management and "yes men" students’ union leadership on the DSM comrades and other left organizations was launched during an examination period when there was no struggle between the management and students.
As we write, two of our comrades including Dairo Olatunde (National PRO of the Education Rights Campaign, ERC) – whose rib was broken - and Adeleke Emmanuel Olorunwa, are lying in critical conditions at the university’s teaching hospital as a result of the physical attack. Ten other comrades including Hassan Taiwo Soweto (national coordinator of the ERC) were not only physically attacked but have also been detained at the police station at the behest of the management. Also two members of the Congress of the Progressive Youths (COPY) who collaborate with us in the ERC have also been detained. Already, the local DSM secretariat and properties of both the DSM and comrades have been burnt by these hoodlums, all in the full glare of nine university officers including the vice dean of the students’ affairs, the registrar of the university, the chief security officer of the university and security personnel.
No doubt, this is a premeditated and sponsored attack by the authorities who see our comrades as the obstacle to the planned increase in the school fees and other instances of neo-liberal attacks on students of the university. The current officers of the OAU students unions are marionettes of the management and not popular among the students because they do not defend the welfare conditions of the students. Apparently, the students’ union officers had been looking for an avenue to foment trouble on the campus in order to attack our comrades who have been in the forefront of opposition to their anti-student leadership.
The issue at the centre of the crisis did not in anyway concern our DSM comrades. A student who is not our comrade was said to have used a hot iron to burn another student who had allegedly stolen a laptop computer at the Awolowo Hall of Residence. This reprehensible administration of jungle justice by this student provoked the anger of the union which declared him wanted. On Monday July 12 the student in question went to Fajuyi Hall to submit himself to the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the union who did not do anything to him. As it turned out, the students’ union leadership had another plan. A few hours after the student had left the President of students union, Alabi Paul Alaje, led some cultists to the room of a DSM comrade, Adeleke Olorunwa, on the same floor as the PRO at Fajuyi Hall under the guise of looking for the "wanted" student who was alleged to be hiding in his room. In the process Adeleke Olorunwa was attacked and his room vandalized, though the "wanted" student was not found in the room.
It is in instructive to state that Adeleke Olorunwa contested as our candidate against the President at the last students’ union election. Olorunwa, who came second at the election, has been one of the major figures of the opposition against the management and its lapdog students’ union leadership. Olorunwa was beaten to the extent that he had to be admitted to the teaching hospital. The union president who led the attack in order to avoid incurring the rot of students pretended to have been beaten with charms by our comrades and was taken to an herbalist. This was also meant as a basis to unleash further attacks on our organisation, comrades and collaborators.
Then on the following day, July 13, the PRO of the students’ union led some cultists to invade the DSM secretariat and attack comrades. Properties of our comrades including clothes, books, five laptops, cell phones, and other materials were carted away by these hoodlums while many other properties in our secretariat were burnt; all in the full glare of the university officers.
Pathetically, the university officers were present in the whole orgy of violence while nothing was done by the management to stop the violence. In fact, all of the members of the organization who were attacked were dumped at the university security unit office at the University Senate Building (the office of the vice chancellor) where they spent about 8 hours before being transferred to the Police Area Command Moore in Ile-Ife where they spent the night.
At present 8 student activists including 6 DSM comrades and two members of COPY including a female student have been taken to the State Police Command Osogbo. Four other comrades are detained at the university security post. All of these incarcerated students except Soweto, who has just graduated, are writing the ongoing examination in the university. The implication is that those of them who are in the final year will spend an extra year in the university because of the missed examinations.
These victims of cult-like attack have been now turned into culprits by the management. Sadly, while these seriously wounded comrades are incarcerated by the police who, at the behest of the management, have been charged with assault, their tormentors are enjoying the orgy.
The attitude of the university management is not accidental. According to information available to us, the attack was sponsored by the university management to provoke members of the DSM, who are seen as the main forces of resistance against the anti-poor policies of the management and the government of the day. Currently, our student members active in Education Rights Campaign (ERC) are currently engaged in a national campaign against fee hikes in schools and for proper funding of education at all levels. With this background, it is expected that the management will use its entire arsenal including pliable union officers to launch attacks on us, and our organization.
We place the responsibility of the whole attacks on the university management, led by Prof. Michael Faborode, and its hangers-on in the students’ union. Members of the DSM have been active in the progressive activities of the students’ union including campaign against cultism. In fact, our members have led the students’ union several times and the records are there to show our roles. In fact, in 2007, two of our comrades (Hassan Taiwo Soweto and Dairo Olatunde) were clamped into detention for four months for leading a campaign for independent students’ unionism devoid of management’s interference. Also, six of our comrades were rusticated same time for the same course. Thus, our organization cannot be alleged to be anti-student or anti-student unionism.
Most significantly, after the attack the pro-management students’ union officers led by the President, who had earlier claimed to have been charmed, went round the campus to proclaim proscription of ideological organizations – i.e. socialist groups - on the campus. It should be noted the DSM has existed on the campus for over 30 years including the long period of military rule. Besides, the Nigerian Constitution guarantees freedom of association.
This has further proved that the attack is pre-meditated aiming to cripple opposition led by DSM and left organisations against the planned fees increase and other neo-liberal attacks. It is also aimed at beheading a new generation of young progressive minds who are to play a decisive role in overhaul the bankrupt but corrupt capitalist political structure in the country
We call on the trade unions and civil rights organizations nationally and education workers unions at the OAU in particular to demand an open democratic panel of enquiry to probe the roles of the Michael Faborode led management in the whole crisis. Specifically, initiative should be taken to organize such a democratically controlled probe.
We demand the immediate release of our comrades and withdrawal of trumped-up charges against them. We demand immediate arrest of all hoodlums who carried out of the orgy of violence and their prosecution at the appropriate judicial courts. We say no to education commercialization. We demand independent unionism devoid of management interference on campuses.
Professor Michael Faborode
Professor Michael Faborode
+234 8088176332, +234 8033447446, +234 806009811
The Commissioner of Police Osun State Command
Committee for a Workers' International
PO Box 3688, London E11 1YE, Britain, Tel: ++ 44 20 8988 8760, Fax: ++ 44 20 8988 8793, firstname.lastname@example.org