Attackers and backers must be brought to justice – For an open, democratic investigation!
On Thursday 15 July 2010, the authorities of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) released the remaining 5 members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM- CWI in Nigeria) OAU branch which they had been detaining. This was 24 hours after the other comrades detained at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) of the Osun State Police Command had been released. No doubt, the school management and police authorities succumbed under the heavy and consistent pressure of comrades, as well as trade union and civil society activists nationally and internationally through protest calls, text messages and e-mail.
Abiodun Aremu, the Joint-Secretary of Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO), for instance, spoke with Professor Michael Faborode and Professor J. A Fabayo, the Vice-Chancellor and head of the Gestapo-like security outfit of the university respectively.
Also in solidarity with our detained comrades, the ASUU OAU branch helped provide legal support alongside the legal team of the DSM comprising Alfred Adegoke and Fadugba Dayo (both DSM members). This commendable solidarity of ASUU is as a result of the recognition of the work and activities of the DSM and our student comrades in the student and workers’ movement most especially the campaign for adequate funding of education being led by our members under the platform of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC).
Despite the attacks on comrades and the burning of the secretariat of the organization on campus by the hoodlums masquerading as union officials, our comrades have since launched out series of propaganda activities on campus to counter the falsehood of the assailants and their supporters in the University Management. Statements by both the DSM and the ERC have been pasted on campus aside other individual statements. We have also had a series of public debates and agitation among the students. This has largely paid off with more and more students coming to the side of the DSM after hearing our own side of the story.
For instance, a mass of students on Tuesday July 20, 2010 physically prevented the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of the university from arresting Adeleke Olorunwa (Godday), our candidate for president at the last students’ union election and one of the victims of the attack by authorities sponsored storm troopers. Godday was addressing the mass of students at Awolowo Hall of Residence when the CSO led the university security operatives there.
Really the ferocious attacks which left about 10 DSM members and a few members of the Congress of Progressive Youths (COPY), who collaborate with us in the ERC, injured were initially largely successful due to the fact that students were misinformed that DSM members had struck the Union president with a charm. This ridiculous lie was actually fabricated to draw the ire of the mass of students against our members. It is even more appalling and disturbing that such primitive and mystical belief in charms could thrive in a university community that should be bedrock of reasons and scientific thinking. However, since the attack on July 12 and 13, more facts have emerged and started to open the eye of students to the preconceived agenda of the management’s lapdog students union leadership to crush the DSM and other left organizations. This is because of our consistent agitation among students against their inability to defend students interest to adequate welfare conditions and enabling atmosphere for quality learning.
At the same time the University Management has not, despite its control over the current puppet-union leadership, had not been able to gain the confidence to introduce anti-poor education policies, largely due to the obstacle presented by the DSM and other left organizations. For instance, the University Management has had in the pipeline for over a year now a plan to increase fees but for the opposition of the DSM and ERC. Also on the struggle for the reinstatement of victimized activists, DSM comrades had been at the forefront of the agitation for the Students’ Union to call a one-day lecture boycott and mass protest which the Union leadership rebuffed.
Thus, the interest of the reactionary union leaders converged with that of the management thereby producing the current unprovoked attack on members of the DSM and ERC with vandalization of properties (DSM secretariat, laptops, phones, books etc) and physical assault.
Indeed, this unprovoked violence on comrades and the DSM is in line with the measures of university management to crush all ideological organizations and radical forces within the campus (both in the Student Union and Staff Unions) as a basis to turn the University into a Banana republic where Management anti worker and student policies go unchallenged.
Similar attacks had been launched against the ASUU OAU branch in order to crush the struggle of the University workers against illegal double deduction of their pension allowance. An attempt was made by the Management to use some traitors within ASUU OAU branch to remove the chairman undemocratically and when this failed, the management also made an attempt to sack him. Before all this, key workers leaders had been issued death threats while the treasurer of ASUU was physically attacked by hoodlums and only survived by his whiskers but sustained an injury to her arm. In all these battles, the DSM OAU branch and the ERC supported the workers thus drawing the ire of the management.
Side by side with the above was also the interest of the Obafemi Awolowo University PDP-led Management to stop the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) from continuing the struggle against fee hike in Ekiti tertiary institutions. The Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) serves as the National Secretariat of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) and the ERC is currently involved in a national campaign against education underfunding and fee hikes. Recall that in Ekiti we had a huge protest against fee on June 16 and issued an ultimatum to the Ekiti state government which lapsed on July 14. On July 13 when comrades were attacked and organizational and personal properties destroyed, all members of the DSM, COPY and the ERC were preparing for a journey to Ekiti where a second protest had been billed to take place on the following day. The unprovoked attack automatically made that journey impossible. Aside this, all materials and documents relating to the Ekiti struggle were burnt while some were carted away by the Union thugs with the Chief Security Officers (CSO) of the University presiding.
University management’s involvement in violence
It is absolutely clear that the school management and students union leaders merely used the crime of a non-member of DSM, Meroyi Segun Mathew a.k.a Bombata (a former Chairman of Awolowo hall), who had used a hot pressing iron to burn an alleged thief, as a pretence to launch an attack against the DSM. Bombata was neither beaten either by the Students’ Union or the University security to whom he submitted himself after emerging from his hideout, but DSM members were brutalized under the pretence of harboring him. Indeed, the Area Commander of the SCID put pressure on comrade Waheed Lawal (DSM member and Chairman of Campaign for Democratic and Workers Right) who stood surety for detained DSM members to also stand surety for Bombata so that he himself would not be detained. As expected, Waheed Lawal turned this request down.
It was the management that supplied the dirty blackmail that Bombata is a member of the DSM in order to provide an excuse to victimize and brutalize DSM, ERC and COPY members. The university management actually sent a covering letter to the police where it lied that Bombata is a member of the DSM in order to supply the connection between DSM and the whole crisis. Bombata, who later turned himself in at the end of the violence, refuted the claim of management at the police station. He stated before the police at SCID in Osogbo Osun State “I was never a member of the DSM, I never went to Goddey’s room. I was actually coming from the speaker of the student union Jadamz and the PRO Bobby’s rooms to report myself and they both told me to disappear immediately so as not to create any problem for me. I turned myself in because I am surprised that my issue has caused this entire crisis and so many assaults on innocent people” Excerpts of Bombata’s oral statement at SCID Osogbo.
Besides, the University Management had all the chance in the world to stop these attacks. If such attacks had been launched by students against the management, they would have done everything humanly possible to safeguard lives and properties. But if it was internal student crisis, why were the victims taken to security post in the first place? Secondly, why did the Management take us to police station and present us as suspects and accused persons in a crisis where we ourselves were the sole victims and should therefore have been the complainants?
The reality is that the university management did not only orchestrate the violence but some of its principal officers personally participated in the physical assaults. Professor Fabayo, for instance, threw decency into the swine and in a bestial and barbaric manner physically assaulted some of the comrades that were brought to the security post of the university half-dead, kicking them while still groaning and rolling on the floor. He later ordered the university security operatives to forcefully remove the comrades in hospital beds and return them to university detention camp where they spent more than 24 hours without access to medical treatment.
The loss of the organization and comrades is still being evaluated. The entire libraries, materials, documents of the DSM and the ERC and personal properties of comrades include laptops, books, clothes and the likes were burnt. Many of the comrades missed some papers in the on-going examination which means they would have an extra year.
Arrest & prosecute hoodlums and management accomplices
So far, the police have continued to cover the assailants. In fact, the Area Commander of SCID had said that there can be no compensation to the organization for properties burnt and personal losses of comrades because the attack was a “mob action”. This is in spite of the fact that the names of those who led the attacks have been provided by comrades in their statements to the Police and enough evidence exist to link them with the violence.
However, comrades released on bail are to appear again at the police station in Osogbo on Friday 23rd July 2010.
We greatly appreciate sections of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) from around the world for intervening to help free the comrades. We also appreciate the intervention of ASUU OAU Branch, trade union and civil society activists in Nigeria who also rose to the occasion. However, more still need to be done to get justice for the organization. We therefore call for protest letters to be sent to the University, police and Nigerian authorities for the following demands to be met:
(1) Immediate arrest and prosecution by police of all those involved in the attacks for attempted murder, assault, battery and arson
(2) Immediate suspension of Prof. Michael Faborode, the Vice Chancellor and removal of Prof. Fabayo as the Chairman of the University Security Committee for their complicity.
(3) Immediate compensation for personal and organizational properties burnt and looted.
(4) Immediate steps to be taken to enable victims who missed examinations to complete exams without carryover or extra year.
(5) Setting up of a democratic probe panel, with representatives from staff unions, Alumni, parents, civil society and students, to look into the attacks and their causes, to identify the culpability of individuals, and to investigate the roles of the university management and its officials, assess the loss of the victims and recommend compensation and ways to prevent future occurrence.
Letters should be sent to:
Professor Michael Faborode
With copies also sent to email@example.com