Students of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, have begun the planned protest against hike in their fees.
The Students took to the school gate to express displeasure over the increase in their fees.
Police officers have occupied the school’s main gate, preventing protesting students and others persons from entering the campus. The policemen joined forces with the university security system and men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to ensure peace and security.
Visitors and prospective students attending the university for their screening were denied entry as security personnel closed the gate. Furthermore, students coming from the Sabo area of Yaba were initially dispersed by police officers using teargas canisters, but they later regrouped.
Addressing the situation on behalf of the students, Balogun Oladeji Ibrahim, the President-Elect of the Faculty of Education Students Association, alleged that the Area Commander had instructed his personnel to open fire on them and had also apprehended a couple of their fellow students, namely Femi Adeyeye and Philip Olatinwo. He emphasized that the students were determined to continue their efforts until the release of these two individuals.
However, while the peaceful protest was ongoing, the Lagos police scared the students away by releasing a tear gas. Two students, identified as Femi Adeyeye and Philip Olatinwo, were also injured in the stampede and wisked away by the policemen.
An eyewitness report from Bayo, one of the protesters, revealed that the two victims were carried into the police van while the rest of the protesters ran helta-skelter.
“Many students have fled the scene. I’m hiding somewhere. Femi and Philip are inside the Black Maria. They have not moved them to anywhere,” Bayo said.
Recall that on Tuesday, September 5, Topsociety reported that the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) had warned the Department of State Services (DSS) not to prevent students from exercising their rights to protest, stating that it is a universal human right.
The National Public Relations Officer of the Union, Giwa Temitope, had said that the statement made by the DSS on Monday was fake and that the protest would go on as planned.
On Monday, the DSS had alleged that politicians were mobilising student leaders for violent protest against the Federal Government over socio-economic issues.
This development comes after a group, Student Solidarity Group Against Fee Hike, disclosed that it would embark on a demonstration against fee hike at the University of Lagos on September 6, 2023.
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The NANS PRO, Giwa Temitope had also supported the planned protest, stating that the student body would be storming the UNILAG for the protest and warned the DSS not to infringe on the rights of students.
“It is quite embarrassing that the DSS has derailed to become the propaganda arm of the Federal Government, thereby, raising false alarms and even interfering in affairs that do not in any way relate to their line of profession,” Giwa expressed.
The association expressed grievances over the country’s state of affairs, especially on how fees were increased in tertiary institutions.
“As an association, we maintain that we are not satisfied with how the Nigerian society is being run, most especially, as regards arbitrary fee increment across our tertiary institutions, with the University of Lagos being a model.”
NANS said the failure of the UNILAG management to honour the agreement reached at the meeting with student leaders on August 2, compelled the need for the strike action.
“The protest will hold till the management reverses the hike. Students are therefore enjoined to come out en masse and join the protest for the immediate reversal of fee at the University of Lagos.”
In reply, Benjamin Hundeyin, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), affirmed that the protest constitutes a basic human right, and the police department simply requested that the students notify them in advance to allow for the implementation of security measures.
“The police do not give permission to protesters. It’s their inalienable right. They are only advised to inform the police so that adequate measures can be put in place,” Hundeyin stated.
In July 2023, the university’s administration raised tuition fees, citing “prevailing economic realities” as the justification for the increase. Subsequently, numerous students have started expressing their dissatisfaction with the sudden fee hike.