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UI students accuse institution of victimisation after fee hike protest

The students, under the aegis of Fund Education Coalition protested against the fee hike by the university.

Students of the University of Ibadan at the school gate (Guradian)

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the students, under the aegis of Fund Education Coalition, had, on May 13, protested against the fee hike by the university.

The students, who staged the protest during the inauguration of the new Students’ Union executives, were subsequently apprehended by the security personnel before they were later handed over to the men of Operation Burst.

Convener of the coalition, Femi Adeyeye, told NAN in Ibadan on Tuesday that two of the protesters who are UI students were being unjustly victimised for participating in the protest.

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Adeyeye identified the two UI students: Olamide Iyanuoluwa, of the Institute of African Studies and Ayodele Aduwo of the Department of History as belonging to Concerned Students Against Tuition Fee, an affiliate of the coalition.

NAN reports that the university authorities had, in a memo dated May 24 and signed by Deputy Registrar (Students), T.I. Musa but delivered on May, 27, queried the affected students on their involvement in the protest.

The students were, in the memo, given 48 hours within which to respond to the query or face automatic suspension.

“The Student Affairs Division has received a report from the office of the Vice-Chancellor preferred against you, that on Monday, May 13, 2024, you and three other students, including an unknown person (Adeyeye Oluwafemi), disrupted the swearing-in ceremony for the newly elected executives of the Students’ Union.

“At this event, Olamide Gbadegesin Iyanuoluwa, Nice Linus, Adeyeye Oluwafemi (an unknown person) and Aduwo Ayodele carried placards with scandalous inscriptions against school fee increments.

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“If this allegation is true, your actions constitute an act of gross misconduct, particularly unruly behaviour in the presence of the Vice-Chancellor and other members of the university management.

“Please forward your response with supporting documents, if any, to the Deputy Registrar (Students) within 48 hours of the receipt of this letter, stating why disciplinary action should not be taken against you on account of this allegation.

“Failure to respond to the query within the period stipulated above and/or deliberate release of false information constitutes an act of misconduct which may result in the automatic suspension of your studentship,” the memo stated.

Adeyeye, however, said that the victimisation came after the protesters had been assaulted and battered by the institution’s security personnel before they were handed over to Operation Burst who, he said, were more civil in their handling of the matter.

According to him, the action taken by the university is aimed at shifting attention from the real issue which is the hike in school fees to disciplinary measures against the students involved.

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Adeyeye stated that while it was true that the university needed adequate funding, the burden should not be transferred to the students and, by extension, their parents. He said that the campaign against fee hikes by universities across the country was launched in June 2023.

“Right there in the hall (at UI), we raised placards, just four of us, as we had done in UniJos and other universities in the southwest.

“And it was to remind the students’ union activists of their roles that they were coming in, not to organise parties but to fight for the interests of the students.

“The reality is that many of these students cannot pay the fee, as some are already looking at dropping out of school and that was why we displayed those placards,” he added.

Adeyeye said that the coalition would not fall for the ploy to divert their attention from the fee increment to the victimisation of the students for no just reason.

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“The real issue is that fees must fall in all the universities in Nigeria because it is not economically considerate,” he stated.

Speaking on this development, a source within the university who pleaded anonymity, however, dismissed the allegation of victimisation, saying that the steps taken by the university were right.

The students disrupted the meeting being presided by the vice-chancellor.

“Nobody says they should not organise their protest elsewhere but not at a formal event conducted by the institution.

“It was just a query given to them, asking them to explain themselves and not victimisation.

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“What these students wanted was to cause a crisis in the campus, hence they raised the issue of fee increase.

“There has not been any increase as it were because the fees being paid in UI are the least across all the universities in the South-West in recent times.

“It may be a bit higher than what they paid last year but it is the least across all universities in the South-West,” the source said.

However, the university’s Students’ Union President, Bolaji Aweda, in an interview with NAN, said the union had been engaging the school authorities on the fee hike.

“We are hopeful that the engagement would yield a positive outcome,” Aweda noted.

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