Students who are members of the Students' Solidarity Group Against Fee Hike at the University of Lagos have issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the university administration, demanding the immediate reversal of the recent tuition fee increase.
In a statement signed by one of the leaders of the coalition, Femi Adeyeye on Thursday, the union threatened to embark on a massive protest if the management failed to meet the demand within the time given.
The student leaders at the university met with the school authorities over the increment in July but the management refused to shift its ground on the matter.
This led to a protest by the students’ leaders in Lagos on Wednesday during which police personnel shot at them.
SaharaReporters learnt that the police disrupted the peaceful protest and arrested some of the protesters including an activist, Philip Olatinwo.
The group said the intimidation and harassment they faced during Wednesday's protest from police would not distract and deter them from pursuing their demands against the injustice meted out to their fellow students by UNILAG management.
The statement reads: “Yesterday's protest by University of Lagos students against fee hike and underfunding of education is a powerful display of class consciousness and collective action.
“It was a direct confrontation rejecting the neoliberal siege on public education.
“We maintain that our struggle is a fight for affordable, accessible education which is a fundamental right for all, not just the privileged few and this was clearly stated to the world yesterday.
“The Students’ Solidarity Group Against Fee Hike salutes the courage of all UNILAG students, specially recognizing the ladies (worthy of mention) who stood to defend their constitutional rights to peaceful assembly and protest against all manipulations from the Government and the UNILAG Management.
“We do not want to dwell again on all the manipulations they used, but for every lie dished out by the Professor Ogunsola-led management, we confronted them with the truth and TRUTH eventually won! We won! You all won!
“Regrettably, the Prof. Ogunshola-led management of the University of Lagos resorted to the deployment of armed police officers, who shot canisters of tear gas to disrupt the peaceful students protest, leading to the illegal arrest of some of our comrades namely, Adeyeye Olorunfemi, Olatinwo Phillip, Aduwo Ayodele, Giwa Yisa Temitope and others.
“Their intention was clearly to stifle our voices, instill fear, and deter our peaceful demonstration but they failed WOEFULLY!
“The students’ solidarity group against fee hike vehemently condemns the actions of the Prof. Ogunshola-led management who resorted to the use of armed-to-the-teeth police officers to arrest and harass students participating in a peaceful protest.
“This act represents a grave violation of the rights and freedoms of the students and is a direct affront to the principles of democratic discourse and peaceful assembly. Until yesterday, one would have thought that there were not many police officers in Nigeria.
“It was so shameful to see how these police officers were hustling to arrest protesters like there was a special allowance to be given for the number of protesters each one was able to harass and arrest. We saw this happen first-hand.
“Where were these many armed police officers when Adekunle Agboola, a 200-level student was shot by armed robbers on University Road? Till date, nothing has been heard of the case. Where were they when students got robbed and stabbed just by the gates of our campuses- both Akoka and Idi-Araba?
“We advise that Ogunsola should resort to 21st-century civility and stop wasting the scarce resources of the University on repressing voices of dissent.”
He added, “As the clock begins to tick on our 48-hour ultimatum, we remain resolute in our commitment to the cause. Should the university administration fail to heed the will of the students and rectify this arbitrary fee increase, we will remobilize for a much larger protest and not just a warning protest.”