UNILAG STUDENTS PROTEST INFRINGEMENT ON RIGHTS
Of what turned out to be the talk of the town,but came out of the blues was a peaceful march by the Students of the University of Lagos on Tuesday, 16th March, 2016, to the office of the Dean of Students Affairs, Professor Babawale, over the infringements on their rights as students of the School of first choice and the Nation’s pride.
The peaceful protest comes after the activities of the Muslim Students on the Campus have been suspended for about 129days following allegations by some sections of the Muslim Students on their marginalisation and external influence in the running of the student body- Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), University of Lagos branch.
The peaceful protest which lasted for about two hours started from the University’s Central mosque towards the school gate and ended at the office of the Dean of Students’ Affairs, Professor Babawale.
At the school gate, a representative of the students spoke about the plight of the students. He stated that the infringement on the rights of the students and of the branch had started since October 2015. He said the tenure of the past executives was abruptly ended and the school authorities placed a ban on all activities of the branch. He also said that the secretariat of the branch had been under lock and key with the keys handed to the staff advisers of the body. He stated that the Dean had intervened and promised that a review of the bye-law of the body will be conducted and in January 2016, an election will be conducted to usher in new executives of the branch. He further stated that there has been no elections and the ban on the activities of the branch has not been lifted.
The office of the Dean of Students Affairs acting on behalf of the school management had in collaboration with the University of Lagos Muslim Community suspended the activities of the body after the allegations which dates back to ,November 2015 and promised to return normalcy to them by January, setting up a committee to look into the bye-laws of the society for amendments and ways of including the aggrieved students.
The month of March is almost coming to an end and the students are yet to get any positive response from the management, not even an address to the students to keep them rest assured of the future of their society. This led to the peaceful protest by the students which has been described as shocking by some quarters as there was no rumour or news on the action before today.
According to reporters on ground at the venue of the protest, a muslim lecturer (name withheld) who is also a member of the University of Lagos Muslim Community was quoted to have said to some students, “I’m not saying what you’re doing is wrong but we’re not in support of it and it shouldn’t get to the media”. It would be recalled that the school has been in the news for not too good reasons in the past six months, ranging from the death of a student caused by a fallen electric cable, protest on bedbugs in male hostels, a convoy of a paramount leader who died in the school’s guest house during their 2015 convocation ceremony. Another Lecturer (name withheld) who is one of the Imams of the community was also said to have threatened some female students on seeing them during the protest. In his words, “Do you know the consequences of what you are doing”?. The students however unfazed proceeded with their peaceful march.
The students have ben crying out loud about what they have missed in Tutorials, Academic Seminars, Spiritual programmes, Scholarship initiatives amongst others as a result of the suspension which some have tagged as “hypocritical” and “politically influenced”. “Bring back our MSSN”, “Stop Infringing on our rights”, were some of the shouts by the students. The students have also taken to the social media with the Hashtag; #BringBackOurMSSNUnilag.
Professor Babawale, the Dean of Students Affairs on addressing the bereaved students was quoted to have said “the bye-law review committee just submitted its review last week and the stakeholders involved in the crisis are yet to have a meeting on the review.”. We gathered that the school had earlier promised January for the congress but yet, the bye law review is yet to be vetted while some students still cry foul-play by the Muslim community in the representatives included in th bye-law committee.
After much deliberations, the DSA finally promised that the Congress would hold not later than Thursday 24th of March 2016 and that if by then, nothing happens, he should be held responsible. The students have however threatened that if by then, nothing positive emanates, then what was witnessed would only be a tip of the ice berg.
It is yet to be known, what tomorrow holds as it is just about 47 days to their examinations.
Pictures from the peaceful protest