by Samuel Ogundipe
At least 10 students of Olabisi Onabanjo University were arrested when a planned protest over tuition fees turned violent, Ogun State Police Command confirmed on Monday.
The students, numbering in hundreds, had trooped out very early on Monday chanting pro aluta slogans in protest of what they claimed was ‘‘an unbearable’’ amount of school fees. They blocked both students and staff from entering the school.
Sources say the university’s tuition ranges from low ₦65,000 for management science courses to as high as ₦450,000 for medical students.
Eyewitnesses say the protest was peaceful until a police team, led by Assistant Commissioner Mohammad Abdulkadri, arrived at the school with anti riot personnel who began to fire tear gas canisters at the protesting students in order to dispel them.
Mr. Abdulkadri confirmed that 10 of the protesters were arrested but vehemently denied any of his men fired live ammunition at them.
Several unconfirmed reports from the school claim at least two student were shot dead and several wounded.
In a brief chat with The Scoop, Comrade Olu Ayan, Vice President of the Students’ Union Government speaking from the Ibogun Campus of the university, claimed that policemen did shoot at some students:
‘‘I’m just finishing the meeting where they (school authorities) told us nothing of such (killings) happened and we did not believe because we thought it’s executive cover up.’’
In her reaction, Oluwatosin Oyenuga, a 500L student of law at the university who also doubles as the chief justice of the school’s faculty of law, confirmed the protest and told The Scoop that the school is demanding more than most parents can afford:
‘‘I left home very early because I have exams today for 9 a.m. By the time I got to school I noticed that students had started protesting and I also saw they’ve taken over the main gate’’, she said.
‘‘Our school fees is too exorbitant. Most parents can not afford it’’, she added.
She, however, denied any awareness of the killings, saying: ‘‘I heard several gun shots but I don’t know if it was the police or students that fired it. I don’t know if anybody was shot or killed in the protests. I am not aware of anything like that.’’
The latest protests may not be unconnected with Sunday night joint press statement by the school authority and state government in which all students were directed to regularize their studentship with immediate effect. It is also coming 2 months after a similar protests put the school on lock down between March 19th-22nd of this year.
The Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Saburi Adesanya in his reaction said the regularization was in line with the Federal Government’s directive through the National Universities Commission requiring all universities to provide a comprehensive students’ audit within 2 months.
Adesanya added that the only way to achieve this was to compile the list of bonafide students who had been duly registered through payment of tuition.
He also dismissed Monday protests: “The protesting students were those who failed to meet the deadline of Friday, May 17 to comply with the instruction.
“The deadline has before now shifted for more than three times to allow them complete their registration which some of them refused to do.”
An unknown group which touts itself as the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights of O.O.U., not affiliated to Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Lagos, had on Sunday night circulated details of the planned protests via social media, charging students to ‘‘start another historic fightback that will lead to cancellation or postponement of examinations.’’