Nigeria: Comrade Omomeewa, student leader and socialist campaigner, killed by armed assailants

Comrade Nurudeen Alowonle a.k.a Omomeewa

Tragically, a CWI comrade in Nigeria, Nurudeen Alowonle a.k.a Omomeewa, was murdered in Lagos, late on 18 August.

It is not clear why comrade Omomeewa, along with a supporter who was wounded and is now in hospital, was attacked.

Comrade Omomeewa leaves a wife who he married in January and a very young child.

The following statement was released by CWI Nigeria comrades:

The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) hereby announces the sudden demise of our dear comrade and member, Comrade Nurudeen Alowonle a.k.a Omomeewa. Comrade Omomeewa was the coordinator of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) Lagos State Chapter and a member of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM). He was also a frontline student leader in LASU, a former presidential candidate in the Students Union elections, and a supporter of all struggles of workers, youth, and the poor masses.

We join thousands of current and past students and workers of the Lagos State University (LASU), family, and friends to mourn Comrade Omomeewa. We also commiserate with and send condolences to his wife, his four month old baby and entire family, wishing them the fortitude to bear this very painful loss.

We hold that Comrade Omomeewa would not have met his untimely death if he had not been hounded by the management of the Lagos State University (LASU), which has subjected him to varying levels of victimization over the past three years because of his principled opposition to the management’s anti-student and anti-worker policies.

In the above regard, it must be placed on record that he was brutally shot to death by yet to be identified men in front of the Lagos State University (LASU) on the evening of Wednesday 18 August 2021 when he came to the campus on the invitation of the Lagos State University (LASU) Students Disciplinary Panel to appear for the umpteenth time in a contrived case of admission to racketeering.

The University management, under the immediate past anti-worker and tyrannical Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Fagbohun, had instituted the case against Comrade Omomeewa in October 2019. This was in retribution for his role in students’ struggles on the campus and particularly his solidarity with the workers’ unions on the campus. He took permission from work to appear before the panel with his lawyer, Barrister Nurudeen Temilola Yusuf (Optimist), on Wednesday 18 August and was asked to return in the next two weeks.

The incident is being presented by the police as a robbery gone wrong. However, we think it is too early to draw this conclusion. Comrade Omomeewa was shot while walking to take a bus home with Comrade Majekodunmi – a University worker and member of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), who is serving as a staff adviser of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC). Comrade Majek is now currently hospitalized due to the gunshot injuries he sustained.

We hereby demand immediate the arrest and prosecution of Omomeewa’s killers. We also call for the setting up of a probe panel democratically constituted by elected representatives of the students union, staff unions, trade unions, socialists, and civil society organisations. This body should unravel the real motive behind the attack including, if any, the complicity of the Lagos State University administration which had invited him to the campus to yet again answer to false charges at the Students Disciplinary Panel about a year after he had graduated from the University.

Comrade Omomeewa graduated from LASU in 2020 from the Faculty of Education. However his result and certificate were seized, on the excuse that he had a pending case at the disciplinary panel and consequently he was not allowed to proceed for National Youth Service [Note: it is compulsory for all Nigerian university graduates under 30 years old to serve for one year in the National Youth Service, graduates applying for government and many private jobs are required to have carried out their service]. This is notwithstanding the fact that the University management had failed to pursue this false and contrived case diligently over the past two years. The disciplinary panel had sat very perfunctorily, postponed sitting several times for no genuine reason, and refused to call key witnesses thereby unnecessarily dragging the case for over two years from 2019 till 2021. The reason for this was simply because this was a phantom case of admission racketeering which the University was in no position to prove.

What happened was that in October 2019 the University management tried to ensnare Omomeewa in a case of admission racketeering by deploying operatives of the University security arm and the Department of State Security (DSS) to plant incriminating materials on him. The whole motive behind this was to provide a pretext to victimize Omomeewa, who had by this time, and through his activities alongside other members of the ERC LASU branch, become one of the most notable and principled student activists on the campus. He was always prepared to oppose any anti-student and anti-worker policy of the University administration, in sharp contrast to so-called student leaders who readily sold out students’ interest to the management or preferred to be silent in the face of tyranny. For instance, some of the anti-student and anti-worker policies opposed by late comrade Omomeewa and the ERC include the attacks on the democratic rights of students by campus marshals. They try to enforce a very backward dressing code instituted by the Fagbohun administration, increment of acceptance fee, and balkanization of the admission process into stream 1 and stream 2 in a bid to cleverly increase school fees through the backdoor, etc.

Principled solidarity

Additionally, Comrade Omomeewa had offered principled solidarity to the members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) – LASU Chapter in their struggle against the anti-worker, undemocratic, and other illegal policies and activities of the immediate past tyrannical Prof. Fagbohun-led University administration. This administration ran roughshod over the laws of LASU and committed all kinds of infractions in pursuit of personal agenda and vendetta.

For instance, we backed the workers when the immediate past Fagohun administration equally victimized leaders of the union and also shut down the union’s secretariat when they asked questions about Prof. Fagbohun’s qualification for the position of Vice-Chancellor. At the moment, about five leaders of the union have been sacked by the immediate past Prof. Fagbohun administration.

We believe it was this kind of principled support and solidarity which Omomeewa offered to a workers’ union that earned him the eternal hatred of the immediate past Fagbohun administration, and it is the source of the travail of Omomeewa for the past four years as a student activist and now his death.

To show how much the tyrannical management of the erstwhile Vice-Chancellor despised Comrade Omomewa and his organization, the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), because of our principled stance against its anti-poor policies, the management moved might and means to ensure that Omomeewa never emerged as the 29th President of the Lagos State University Students Union (LASUSU) in the year 2019. This was despite the fact that it was obvious Omomeewa had the most votes. Yet without formally assuming the office of the President of LASUSU, no one can dispute the fact that Omomeewa was a leading and prominent voice on the campus against exploitation and oppression. This can be seen from the outpour of emotion from students and staff since yesterday when the news of his demise emerged.

It is to Omomeewa’s eternal credit as an indefatigable leader of the ERC that his last political outing was his participation at the first post lockdown physical meeting of the ERC LASU branch which was held in the afternoon of the very same Wednesday when he met his end. After appearing at the panel, comrade Omomewa decided to use the opportunity of his presence on campus to attend the meeting of the ERC branch which he had laboured to build for many years together with others. He stayed up late on the campus in order to have a meeting with different workers collaborators of the ERC.

One of the latest major activities of Omomeewa was a leading role as the Lagos coordinator of the ERC in the intervention of the organization in the ongoing struggle of the parents of Lagos State Model Colleges against the hike in boarding fee from N25,000 ($61) to N75,000 ($183), something that is unaffordable for many working class and poor parents.

We are eternally grateful to Omomeewa for his work in building the ERC and his role in the struggle of students, workers, and the oppressed masses. Many generations of LASU students and activists will continue to remember his legacy and will strive to draw inspiration from him.

While mourning Comrade Omomeewa, the ERC wants to use this opportunity to demand an end to tyranny and victimization of student and workers activists in tertiary institutions in Nigeria. We demand the immediate recall of all victimized student and staff activists in any tertiary institution in Nigeria and the restoration of all banned unions. We also demand the immediate recall of all sacked workers leaders in Lagos State University (This includes Dr. Isaac Akinloye Oyewumi, Dr. Adebowale Adeyemi-Suenu, Dr. Anthony Dansu, Dr. Adeolu Oluwaseyi, Dr. Oluwakemi Adebisi-Aboderin – all elected officials of ASUU-LASU) and the adequate funding and democratic management of the institution.

Ogunjimi Isaac Ayobami  

ERC Deputy National Coordinator

Michael Lenin

ERC National Mobilization Officer

  • We demand immediate arrest and prosecution of his killers
  • For a probe panel democratically constituted by elected representatives of the students union, staff unions, trade unions, and civil society to unravel the circumstances surrounding his sudden and unfortunate death including possible complicity of the University administration.
  • An end to victimization and tyranny on LASU campus

Messages of solidarity can be sent via the DSM: dsmcentre@yahoo.com

Originally posted on the Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI Nigeria) website.

 

 

 

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