Letter published in the Guardian, Lagos, March 4, 2008
The Education Rights' Campaign wishes to express our gratitude to friends, organisations, students nationally and internationally on their solidarity with the three incarcerated student activists (Akinola Saburi, the president of Obafemi Awolowo University Student Union, Taiwo Hassan, the Coordinator of the Education Rights' Campaign (ERC) and Olatunde Dairo, the Public Relations Officer of OAU Students Union of the Obafemi-Awolowo University as two of the detained activists (Taiwo Hassan and Olatune Dairo) have regained their freedom on Thursday February 21, 2008 from Ilesha prisons after four months and 10 days of incarceration.
Our appreciation goes to activists and students of Obafemi Awolowo University, University of Sussex Student Union (Britain), Osun State JCC, students from different universities across the country, students from South Africa, students across Europe, U.S, Israel who showed concern and campaigned for the release of the detained students. We equally appreciate comrades of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) in Nigeria and South Africa and comrades of the Committee for Workers’ International (CWI) in Greece, Israel, England and Wales, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Pakistan and elsewhere for their dogged campaigns for the release and dropping of all made-up charges alongside the restoration of students rights to an independent unionism in Obafemi Awolowo University.
We also thank the legal team that showed great solidarity by pursuing the matter in court free of charge with particular reference Fred Adegoke, Niyi Adewunmi, Segun Sango, Jiti Ogunye, Olumide Fusika, Lekan Alabi and others.
We will not also forget to express our profound gratitude to the media who have been giving the victimisation of the students the required publicity.
Though two of the three detained students have been released, the ERC condemns strongly some of the conditions given to the freed students by the Osogbo Magistrate Court, one of which is that they must not participate in union activities. We hereby state that barring the students from Student Union activities is not only undemocratic and illegal, it also runs foul of sections 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution which guarantee every citizen the inalienable right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly/association respectively.
The ERC calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the President of the Obafemi Awolowo Students Union, Akinola Saburi who had been detained at the Ilesha Prisons since August 1, 2007 on fabricated charges. We also demand the immediate re-instatement of the 13 illegally suspended and one expelled students of OAU, the dropping of all made-up charges and the re-instatement of the Student Union body. We also demand the re-instatement of the over 70 student leaders that were illegally suspended by the management of the Ahmadu Bello University.
Conclusively, we renew our demand for adequate public funding of education that will entail committing at least 26 per cent of budgetary allocations to education so as to guarantee free and quality education for all students/pupils from nursery to the university, including adult education and for democratic management of the university by board/committee of elected students, lecturers, parents, the communities etc, in order to put a stop to the corruption that has enveloped the educational system due to bureaucratic control.