Nigeria: Imprisoned student activists get dates for bail hearing secured

Mass meeting of OAU students decides action

Monday, November 19, saw some steps forward being made in the legal attempts to get bail for the three detained students from Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

The Osun State High Court in Osogbo adjourned the case of OAU Students’ Union president Akinola Saburi until Thursday, November 22, when it will now hear his application for bail. Saburi has been held in prison since July 31 on trumped up charges, including conspiracy and an attempt to murder the former OAU Vice Chancellor in 2004.

At the same time, the Osogbo Magistrates Court was hearing the bail applications for two DSM members, Olatunde Dairo (aka Barry Blackly), the OAU Students’ Union Public Relations Officer and Taiwo Hassan Soweto, Secretary of the DSM’s OAU Branch and also National Coordinator, of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC). These two have been held since October 11 on very similar charges to Saburi, including the conspiracy and attempted murder. The Magistrate said that he wanted to study the opposition from the Osun State lawyer before giving a ruling on Monday, November 26.

OAU student protests stepped up

But the campaign to secure the release of the “OAU 3” is not simply been left to courtroom arguments.

ON November 19, to heighten the demand for the release of their detained leaders, OAU students held a mass congress (public meeting) attended by about 2,000 students yesterday, November 19. This followed on from the 1,500 strong congress held the previous Thursday. The mass meeting called a lecture boycott for November 20. To mobilise for the boycott today (November 20) about 50 students make been marching and holding rallies around the campus.

The OAU authorities set a local security outfit (the “cracker team”), mostly made up of by ex-fighters in Ife-Modakeke internecine war, to trail this protest march with aim of arresting some of the student leaders, who have been declared to be “at large” by the state prosecution in the charge sheets against three detained students, and asked by the authorities to keep off the campus after being suspended. These student activists have defied authorities because of the massive support they enjoy from students. The “cracker team” could not make any arrests apparently out of fear of serious backlash it could generate.

There is already a discussion underway on the possibility of holding a rally on Thursday in Oshogbo, the Osun State capital, when Students Union president Saburi’s case is next due to be heard. The rally is expected to also involve students from other higher educational institutions in Osun State.

Students arrived at these political actions after the courts deliberately delayed justice with another round of arbitrary adjournments on the bail application of jailed student leaders.

The morale of students has been strengthened by the international campaigning the OAU crisis has attracted. Reports of international action are always posted round the campus by comrades. 

Pressure must be maintained to secure the release of the “OAU 3” from prison. It is possible that they may get bail, but this will not be the end of the story. Campaigning will have to continue to secure the dropping of the false charges laid against them and the recall of 14 student activists expelled or suspended from the university

Protests should continue to be sent to:

Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU): registrar@oauife.edu.ng

OAU Vice-Chancellor: mfaborode@yahoo.co.uk and mfaborod@oauife.edu.ng

Nigerian Federal Ministry of Education: enquiries@fme.gov.ng and te@fme.gov.ng

Local Nigerian Embassies or High Commissions.

Please send news of pickets and copies of messages to:

CDWR in Nigeria: campaignworkers@yahoo.co.uk

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