The Socialist 1 November 2007 |
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Nigeria: Day of action protest march in Osogbo
AS PART of the ongoing international campaign to free the detained student leaders from Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) and Education Rights Campaign (ERC) organised a protest march in Osogbo, the Osun State capital city, on 23 October.
A correspondent in Nigeria
Saburi Akinola, President of the OAU Students Union, Dairo Olatunde, the Students Union Public Relations Officer and Taiwo Hassan, the ERC's National Coordinator, are being held on a series of trumped-up charges including conspiracy to murder and the attempted murder of the OAU's then Vice-Chancellor in 2004.
The protest march started after the Osun High Court sitting where the bail application for Akinola Saburi was heard. Saburi has been incarcerated at Ilesha prison since 1 August after his arrest on 31 July at a court premises where he had gone to file a legal application against his expulsion from the university.
Before the court commenced proper, barrister Lekan Alabi, representing Saburi Akinola, objected to the presence of men from the notorious State Security Service (SSS).
Saburi's lawyer argued that the judge should stop further arrests of student activists within the court premises. The judge ordered that the men of the SSS should not arrest students who have come to show solidarity with their detained student leaders. However, he also stated that he has no power to stop any arrest!
As Saburi's bail application was about to be heard, the State lawyer opposed it on the basis that the bail application did not meet the required procedure laid down by the Osun State law. Countering this position, Alabi argued that these procedural instances only apply to civil matters and not criminal matters as spelt out by the Osun State Judicial Act.
The argument went on for over an hour after which the trial judge adjourned the hearing to 12 November in order to give a ruling on the State's objection and then, if the State's position was rejected, to go ahead and hear Saburi's bail application. This means that Subari will spend at least another two and a half weeks in jail.
It was obvious that the lawyer for the State went all out to stall the bail application with the aim of keeping the Student Union leader in prison.
The bitter irony is that the State's lawyer claimed to be defending legal procedure while representing a State government that is internationally recognised as having blatantly stolen last April's elections.
After the court sitting, the procession took off from the court premises and moved round the town before ending at the Correspondence Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in Osogbo where a press conference was held.
The demands of the march included the immediate and unconditional release of the three detained student leaders; immediate and unconditional reinstatement of politically victimised student leaders; hands off the OAU Students' Union; improved learning and living conditions on campus; proper funding of education.
After the conference the protesting students agreed to step up the campaign to free the students and to reinstate the suspended and expelled students.
We continue to ask that urgent protest letters be sent to:
Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) at [email protected]
OAU Vice-Chancellor – [email protected] and [email protected]
Nigerian Federal Ministry of Education at [email protected] and [email protected]
Please send copies of all protests to: