Nigeria: Imprisoned students get world-wide support

Simultaneous pickets demand their release and the dropping of all charges

As students and other protesters marched to the courthouse in Oshogbo on Tuesday, 23 October, simultaneous embassy pickets took place across Europe. More are planned and messages continue to be sent from places as far afield as Colombo, Sri Lanka and Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Reports and photos.

Imprisoned students get world-wide support


Picket protest at Nigerian embassy in Dublin

Socialist councillor has sharp exchange with Nigerian Chargé d’Affaires

In protest against the framing of three Nigerian student leaders, twenty people took part in a lively lunchtime picket of the Nigerian embassy in Dublin, on October 23rd. The picket was called by Socialist Youth to highlight the arrest of Saburi Akanda Akinola, Taiwo Hassan Soweto and Olatunde Dairo – all leaders of the Students’ Union in Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. They are being held on trumped-up charges of conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder of the OAU Vice Chancellor (See previous articles on this site).

Protestors carried placards calling for “The right to organise students’ and workers’ unions” and “The release of all student protestors now”. Chants demanded “Free, Free, the student three!”.

The Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy came out to speak to the demonstrators but feigned surprise at why anyone would protest outside the Nigerian embassy, as Nigeria is now a ‘democracy!’ The repeated cases of election rigging, corruption and repression are obviously figments of our imagination! He later invited two representatives of the Socialist Party, including Cllr. Mick Murphy, to present a letter of protest to the Embassy as well as to discuss the situation.

After some sharp exchanges, there were some implied accusations made about cult involvement on the campus as a potential reason for the arrests. This was firmly rejected. (In fact, seven left students, including the then secretary of the students’ union were murdered on the OAU campus eight years ago by cult members probably in collusion with the University management of the time! cwi).

At the Embassy, we made it very clear that protests and pickets would continue to be directed towards the Nigerian state and its embassies internationally, until all charges against the ‘OAU Three’ are dropped and college interference ceases in the Students’ Union.


Embassy staff in Stockholm promise an answer

Lina Thörnblom, city councillor in Haninge (south Stockholm), was one of the speakers outside the Nigerian embassy in Stockholm on Tuesday. “We will spread the information about Saburi Akanda Akinola, Taiwo Hassan Soweto and Olatunde Dairo. We will call for demonstrations and solidarity action until the students are released and the charges are dropped,” she said.

The protest had not even started when three of the embassy staff gathered outside their building. The top official – the Chargé d’Affaires, Ayoko – spoke to Per-Åke Westerlund from Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden). “I can assure you that your letter will be furthered to the right address and that you will get an answer. We take democratic rights seriously,” the embassy official said.

The demonstrators gave facts about the dictatorial methods used at the OA University and gave some facts about the election fraud in Osun state. The officials also received copies of last week’s Offensiv, the weekly socialist newspaper, with an article about the arrests.

“Release the student leaders NOW!” shouted the protesting crowd – members and supporters of RS and a group of school students – outside the embassy, in a neighbourhood filled with embassies.

Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden)


London: High Commissioner’s representative expresses concern

High Commissioner’s representative expresses concern

Socialist Party members in London held a lively protest outside the Nigeria High Commission. With our placards and chanting, we certainly made an impression in the area. We took with us letters from elected Socialist Party councillors and the Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights in Nigeria (CDWRN) demanding the immediate release of the arrested students.

Our protest obviously had an effect because we were told that the High Commission usually refuses to receive such letters. Not only did they take the letters but a representative of the High Commissioner met us and expressed concern at the protest, particularly when we explained that protests like these were taking place around the world.

We also said that we will continue the protests and give the widest possible publicity to this campaign until the students are released. This representative then told us that he would pass the letters on to the relevant authorities in Nigeria. During the protest several copies of the Socialist were sold.

NorthWest England

Socialist Students in Bangor held a day of action on Tuesday in support of victimised student activists at OAU in Nigeria. We ran a stall collecting signatures demanding the students’ release. There was a good response, with several being interested in joining the Socialist Students’ Society and selling several copies of this week’s Socialist.

Later on, three of us attended the Student Union General Meeting where we spoke to members of the Amnesty Society who pledged support for our solidarity campaign. We would recommend the organising of stalls on this as part of a campus-based campaign for socialist student groups. Iain Dalton & Gemma Chapman, Bangor Socialist Party


Vienna protests at Nigerian embassy

Letter signed by several organisations handed in

As during the simultaneous protests elsewhere, a letter was handed to the Nigerian authorities making almost identical demands in relation to the imprisoned students. It was signed by the following organisations and individuals

  • Sozialistische Links Partei – SLP. (CWI Austria);
  • Sozialistische Jugend Österreichs -SJÖ- Landesorganisation Wien. (Socialist Youth, Vienna region. Youth organisation of the ruling Social Democratic Party)
  • Gewerkschaftlicher Linksblock – GLB im Österreichischen Gewerkschaftsbund –ÖGB. (Trade Union Left Bloc, officially recognised left fraction/tendency within the Austrian Trade Union Federation)
  • Europabüro des Weltgewerkschaftsbundes. (European Office of the World Federation of Trade Unions, the former Stalinist international TU body)
  • Plattform für kämpferische und demokratische Gewerkschaften. (Platform for Fighting and Democratic Trade Unions, the TU campaign the CWI helped form)
  • Herbert Wanko — Mitglied des gemeinsamen Betriebsrates bei NXP (Member of the Combined Works Council at NXP, an electronics company)
  • Sven H Betriebsrats Vorsitzender bei Radio Orange.
  • (Chair of the Works Council at Radio Orange, a Vienna radio station)

The letter ended: “Students and working people in Nigeria are in a daily struggle for survival while a corrupt and bloated elite continues to receive international backing."

We demand:

  • Release student campaigners now! Drop all charges against them.
  • Reinstate the suspended students- Now!
  • Defend public education against the privatisers and their corrupt business friends.
  • For the right to organise student and workers’ unions unmolested.
  • Remove the real criminals from office; for democratic control by
  • elected representatives in the universities and in society!

Other protests held or planned

Reports have come in that protests were also held on Tuesday in Brussels and in Tel Aviv. Others are planned in Athens and in Berlin and, as long as the students are held, these will spread to other cities world-wide.

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October 2007