The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) have paralysed activities in the University of Ibadan (UI) to protest what it described as an “unjust rustication” of a 500 level student of Petroleum Engineering, Tunji Ekpeti Michael.
The protest entered its second day on Tuesday. Some roads within the institution have been baricaded, lectures have been disrupted and movement in and out of the institution hindered.
The protesters called on the Students Disciplinary Committee to apologise to Michael for the psychological trauma caused to him.
Michael was served a one-semester rustication by the Committee for allegedly leading a protest carried out by residents of Independence Hall last semester.
The protesters have vowed to continue the “FREEMOTE” daily until the school authorities met their demands.
But the management of tjhe instituion have dismised the protest, asking students to go about their normal academic activities.
On the school’s radio station, Diamond FM, the institution’s Director of Public Communications, Olatunji Oladejo, said:
“Michael broke the rules and regulations governing the conduct of the university. He was found guilty and was queried for leading a protest at the Independence Hall for lack of water and electricity.
“The Student Affairs queried him and he appeared before a panel. He had 21 days to appeal against the order and explain himself but did not appeal. Rather than appeal, he began to disrupt school activities. This behaviour is not acceptable in a civilised society.
“He was rusticated for a semester as recommended by the Central Disciplinary Committee (CDC) for the gravity of the offence.”
In an interview with Information Nigeria, Michael explained:
Basically, it boiled down to the protest over light and water that occurred on the 18th of November last year, that is, 2015. For a truth, the protest was peaceful in every way; there was no vandalisation of any property in the school, harassment of anybody. So what it boiled down to for them then at the committee. They (the SDC people) asked why I joined the protest since I didn’t have a room legally in Independence Hall. But Independence hall shows on my ID card, it’s the hall I was from 100 Level. Just that in 400 Level I didn’t have a room. So they asked why exactly I joined the protest over light and water. Then I now made it clear to them that it wasn’t that I set out to join because I was even on my I.T in Port Harcourt, then I just got back for some particular reasons. So it wasn’t like I set out to do it. The day the protest thing happened, I was on my way to my hall and all. I saw them and I got down knowing fully well that I knew these people so I joined. So that was the reason.
Everyone knows that when it comes to student activism and the University of Ibadan, two male halls come to mind; Zik Hall and Independence Hall. And like it was said, after that protest, it was said that Independence Hall alone in that particular year, had like four protests. Nobody is a mad person. So, they made it seem as if there was an allowable limit and we had exceeded that. Activism was at its peak in the hall and all its common knowledge that the school management is not one that will totally encourage student activism. I guess……. To be honest, immediately I was sent a query, I just knew within me that I wasn’t going to contest anymore. There were a lot of people in the protest, at least over two hundred, but why me in particular. So, it was obvious that the school was trying to be proactive in a sense.